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Aftershocks of the political earthquake in Maharashtra

Aftershocks of the political earthquake in Maharashtra

 


The leader of the National Congress Party (NCP), Sharad Pawar, had known for a while that his nephew Ajit Pawar was ready to break away. Perhaps what surprised the old warhorse was that a large number of party MPs followed him to join the ruling coalition of BJP and Eknath Shinde. This includes Bedi-King Praful Patil, Pawar’s onetime political figure who ironically was appointed as one of the working chiefs of the NCP to sideline Ajit Pawar.

Ajit Pawar was at one point being groomed as Sharad Pawar’s political successor and took over as the appointed crown prince. However, once Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Soli entered politics, the family dynamics seem to have changed. After the Rajya Sabha period, Sharad Pawar’s Lok Sabha constituency was handed to him, indicating that she would inherit his political legacy. When she was appointed acting president of the NCP, responsible not only for Maharashtra but also for coordinating with other opposition parties in Delhi, Ajit Pawar knew he was out of the succession race. Finally, this led to him rebelling against his uncle’s political plans.

Also read | Maha bankruptcy of political morals

There is a similarity between the succession saga of the NCP and Shiv Sena, his partner in Maharashtra Vikas Agadi (MVA). PAL Thackeray initially promoted his nephew Raj Thackeray to be his successor, as his son, Udhav Thackeray, showed little interest in politics. However, when Uddhav Thackeray developed political ambitions, the Shiv Sena chief weighed in favor of his son. Pal Thackeray ensured that his son took over the reins of the party from him during his lifetime – as chief operating officer in 2003 and then in 2006 as editor-in-chief of the party’s mouthpiece, Samneh. Once he realized that he would not lead the Shiv Sena, Raj Thackeray severed and formed Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in 2006.

With that, Shiv Sena’s legacy was finally decided by the voters. The rank and file Shiv Sena went decisively with the Uddhav Thackeray party in the 2009 Maharashtra assembly election where Shiv Sena secured three times as many seats (44) than MNS (13). There is a firm belief even after the second split in the Shiv Sena, that the party cadre may be with the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and not with the faction led by Chief Minister of Maharashtra Eknath Shinde. This is the reason for Shinde’s apparent reluctance to hold the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Assembly elections which were to be held in March 2022. Also in the case of the NCP, the voters will decide who ultimately leads the party – Ajit Pawar or Supriya Soli.

There is a difference between the recent Uddhav-Shinde split in Shiv Sena and the dissolution of the NCP. In the case of Shiv Sena, the pressure on MLAs to join the Shinde camp came from the alleged involvement of a slew of corruption cases. However, it would be wrong to see Ajit Pawar divided in the same way. Although some NCP defectors have cases of economic impropriety registered against them, they may also prefer the leadership of Ajit Pawar. Maybe they think Supriya Soli is only effective in the shadow of her father and maybe she thinks about life after Kabir Pawar.

Despite turning 82 and surviving cancer, Sharad Pawar is still itching to go. His behavior was exemplary, and his political pronouncements balanced out in the aftermath of the split. He has said that he has great faith in the people of Maharashtra, especially the youth, and that the people will decide who the NCP belongs to.

However, given his age, it is difficult to believe in his rallying cry that questions about the future of the party are not new to him and that he rose from the ashes earlier. “After the 1980 election, out of the 58 MLAs of the party I led, all but six left. I formed the party again by taking five MLAs with me. In the next election, except for the two or three people who left us, they all lost,” he told reporters. But then he was barely 39. If he is right in claiming that only the people will decide the fate of his party, that will be evident in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.The assembly elections in Maharashtra are scheduled for only later, in October 2024. .

The tremor to Sharad Pawar will surely be felt by the opposition trying to unite against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for 2024. Sharad Pawar’s role in bringing together the opposition parties may now suffer a setback. There may be doubts about his leadership role in building unity among the opposition parties because he was unable to keep his party together.

Moreover, since the United National Congress party only had five seats in the Lok Sabha, its weight in the opposition will drop – and people wonder if it will bring even fewer to the negotiating table in 2024. Also, if it will Pawar must double-down on his Maharashtra turf, he may not have much time to deal with mercurial opposition leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal.

The opposition’s focus could also be shifted to unification now out of concern for the integrity of their parties. Who says that the BJP will not smooth out divisions in other opposition parties, especially the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar or even the Congress in that state? Congress will be most concerned in Rajasthan as rebel leader Sachin Pilot’s negotiating power has received an unexpected boost from developments in Maharashtra.

Most importantly, the perception gaining ground that the BJP was on full swing after its defeat in Karnataka will now be dispelled, and there will be no room for complacency as the political scene heats up.

(Bharat Bhushan is a journalist based in Delhi).

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DH.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/ajit-pawar-sharad-pawar-ncp-maharashtra-bjp-opposition-unity-1233743.html

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