In 2019, after the results of the Assembly polls in Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s political moves left the BJP stunned after they were left holding the Opposition tag despite winning the maximum number of seats in Maharashtra. ‘Impossible’ is not a familiar word in the Pawar brand of politics, when he set his mind on something it became a looming possibility. Therefore, when one of the wiliest politicians in India speaks, people listen. Former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray did not pay heed to Pawar when the latter cautioned him about a likely rebellion with the Shiv Sena of which Thackeray was the chief.
So, when the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government was brought down by Shiv Sena rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, it came as neither a surprise nor shock to Pawar. The leader often referred to as “the Maratha strongman” has an enviable network of informants across the spectrum. He is tuned in to the political pulse of all the major political parties spread across the states of India. According to people who know the leader, he is someone who rarely rests, even when he is victorious in elections. The day the MVA Government – a coalition he stitched together between the Shiv Sena, NCP, and the Congress Party – fell to the political maneuvers of the BJP, Pawar started touring Maharashtra and establishing a renewed connect with the people. Pawar is very clear that the NCP’s political survival is dependent on its performance.
In 2019, Pawar single-handedly managed to bring political parties with opposing ideologies on the same table and sit together in governance. Confidantes, friends, and his foes compare Pawar’s political astuteness to that of a jungle cat. Pawar is considered to be a politician with the Midas touch with a flair to help even “has-beens” stage a comeback. Sources told Outlook that Pawar is not a man given to emotional extravagance. “In 2019, Pawar Saheb had been given an ED notice. This angered him so much that he decided to break the Shiv Sena away from the BJP. This was a closely guarded secret and he set out to do just that,” said a source. Pawar is a politician who cannot be pressured into doing something he does not want to do.
His close and enduring friendship with the late Balasaheb Thackeray had put him high on Uddhav’s trust graph. In 2019, by insisting that Uddhav Thackeray took by the chief minister’s job, Pawar ensured that there was a permanent breach between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. For the Maratha leader staying in power in Maharashtra is essential to keep his nephew Ajit Pawar in check. Intensely ambitious, Ajit is the weakest link in the Pawar brand of politics. Sources told Outlook that Pawar is fixated on keeping his aggressive and short-tempered nephew from crossing over to the saffron side as Ajit had done in the past.
Presently sources say that the leader is “resting”, a fact that has made the state BJP jittery in the state, For many in the political circles say that when the leader is “resting” he is planning the next coup.