In a sensational revelation, Sharad Pawar was ready to support to the BJP government in Maharashtra but asked for someone other than Fadnavis to become the CM in his 45-minute conversation with PM Modi. However, PM Modi refused to pay heed to Pawar’s demands which have now resulted in the Maha Vikas Aghadi come to power in Maharashtra.
Sharad Pawar during his meeting with the Prime Minister placed two demands in front of Narendra Modi in return for the NCP’s support. The first condition being that the Union Agriculture Ministry be awarded to Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule and the second condition was that someone other than Devendra Fadnavis should become the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Both the demands were squarely rejected by PM Modi which saw Sharad Pawar’s NCP flock to the Shiv Sena and form the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
Sharad Pawar was the Union Agriculture Minister in the UPA-II government and unsurprisingly his tenure was marred with corruption as it was alleged that Pawar received kickbacks in the controversial Lavasa hill city project. Agrarian distress is a critical issue in Maharashtra and given the fact the NCP’s main strength lies in Maharashtra’s co-operatives and mainly the sugar belt, giving the Agricultural Ministry to Supriya Sule would have been a huge self goal scored by the BJP as not only would it have opened itself to corruption, it would have also inadvertently strengthened NCP in Maharashtra.
However, facing desertion on the part of Shiv Sena, BJP was desperate to make sure that it is not outsmarted by its rivals. But, it was the next demand made by Sharad Pawar, which was deal breaker for the BJP and that was Pawar’s insistence of having anyone but Fadnavis as the Chief Minister. This peculiar demand lays bare Pawar’s insecurities. Peculiar because there is no normal reason to uproot the political brand of Fadnavis.
Fadnavis has rightfully earned the image of a Vikas Purush showcasing that Maharashtra can actually have a stable, corruption and controversy-free government which was, in simple terms, a serious threat to Sharad Pawar. It seems that Pawar anticipated that five more years of Fadnavis government would take Maharashtra to greater heights and Fadnavis would emerge as Maharashtra’s tallest leader ever and this may have been a cause of concern for Pawar.
On the other hand, BJP sees in Fadnavis a loyal karyakarta, and an untainted and impeccable leader who must not be dispensed with. The BJP seeks to protect Fadnavis, values his political brand and has awarded him with unshaken trust and confidence. The party seems to recognise and value the formidable track record of the former chief minister, only the second one to complete a five year term in Maharashtra.
The BJP won the Maharashtra elections on the back of Modi wave and Fadnavis was back then the state BJP President. The unfortunate death of Gopinath Munde made the BJP devoid of a credible face in Maharashtra capable enough to lead the party and the state. Fadnavis was handpicked by PM Modi who resisted the pressure to fall to dynasty politics or seniority by ignoring the claims of Pankaja Munde and Eknath Khadse. PM Modi was vindicated as Fadnavis followed the footsteps of PM Modi and worked relentlessly for Maharashtra. Fadnavis is a loyal BJP karyakarta and PM Modi realises his potential and hence, he was ready to let go the throne of Maharashtra for Fadnavis who also managed to increase the BJP’s footprint in Maharashtra’s rural belts. It is heartening to see that the Prime Minister, unlike Uddhav Thackeray, didn’t sacrifice the BJP’s ethos and ideology just for the sake of power.