In his passionate speech, Sharad Pawar said that the party rank-and-file are still with him and vowed that the people of the state will “teach a fitting lesson” to those who broke the NCP and discarded the glorious political traditions of Maharashtra.
MUMBAI — Barely 24 hours after his 25-year-old Nationalist Congress Party split into two pieces, the 83-year-old “Supremo” Sharad Govindrao Pawar was back to his best skill – fighting back as he did in the past 55 years, but without wielding a single weapon.
This time, the political war is being fought with an in-house rival – his nephew Ajit Anantrao Pawar, labelled as the “culprit” who broke the party to sup with the “enemy camp” of ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party.
On July 2, most political leaders rudely chucked off their post-Sunday lunch recliners to view Ajit Pawar mouthing the oath of office as the second Deputy CM with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis in Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s cabinet.
By evening, the battle-lines were drawn, Sharad Pawar sounded the war bugle, even raised his hand and announced he was “the most reliable person” in the party, plus he would seek the blessings of the late Y. B. Chavan’s samadhi in Satara on the auspicious ‘Guru Purnima Day’ to sound the political battle-cry on Monday (July).
This morning as his long motorcade sped from Pune to Satara, thousands of supporters and commoners, mostly youth and women, lined up the route to meet and greet him, shouting slogans in his favour and goading him to go ahead.
At Karad town, he was welcomed by senior Congressman and ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan, Satara NCP MP Shriniwas Patil, state NCP President Jayant Patil’s son Pratik Patil, and Rohit Patil, son of a party stalwart and ex-Deputy CM the late R. R. Patil, and grand-nephew, Rohit Pawar, MLA.
Incidentally, Satara from where Sharad Pawar launched his new battle today, was the venue for the grand finale of the 2019 Lok Sabha bypolls war – when he campaigned in pouring rains for the same Shriniwas Patil to vanquish a Chhatrapati, the BJP candidate Udayanraje Bhosale – and winning hearts all over India.
After paying homage at the memorial of Y. B. Chavan, Sharad Pawar grabbed the microphone to address an enthusiastic crowd which the security had a tough time controlling.
In his passionate speech, the octogenarian said that the party rank-and-file are still with him and vowed that the people of the state will “teach a fitting lesson” to those who broke the NCP and discarded the glorious political traditions of Maharashtra.
“This has not gone down well with the people of the state. Maharashtra politics has always guided the country… Some persons have fallen victim to the BJP’s disruptive politics, and have changed sides… Ajit Pawar doesn’t represent NCP. The masses will give a fitting reply to these people who have split the NCP party,” Pawar said as the crowds roared its approval.
In his speech, he slammed the BJP for attempting to divide the people on religious lines and create disturbances, create fear among different sections of society, threatening democracy and the democratic rights of the masses.
However, Sharad Pawar expressed confidence that the people of the state – who have imbibed the best values of icons like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and Jyotirao Phule – will not tolerate all this.
The beleaguered Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)’s proposed new Leader of Opposition, NCP General Secretary Dr. Jitendra Awhad gushed at “the thunderous welcome Sharad Pawar received in Satara” and said the writing is on the wall for all those who are standing against him.
Pawar Sr had himself said he was not bothered about the MLAs who had switched sides yesterday but was more worried about their political future.
This apparently emitted the appropriate signals – at least one actor-turned-MP Dr Amol Kolhe, and several other MLAs – who were seen grinning and hobnobbing with Ajit Pawar on Sunday, announced their ‘ghar-wapasi’ today.
Meaning business to salvage the NCP, Sharad Pawar plans to address his first rally in Ambegaon – the stronghold of his former PA, Dilip Walse-Patil, whom he made a legislator, minister with major portfolios, Speaker (2009-2014) for full term, and other important party posts – but suddenly he hopped over to the Ajit Pawar camp.
Meanwhile, the NCP and Ajit Pawar’s rival party are slated to hold their crucial meetings in Mumbai on Wednesday where they will chart out their future courses. — IANS