To trust Sharad Pawar is to script your own obituary is the profound knowledge that has been passed on amongst Indian political circles since decades. Sharad Pawar is loyal to none except himself. The Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena has perhaps chosen to ignore this lesson as it is all set to become the latest victim of Sharad Pawar and his family’s double games as it employs the age old good cop, bad cop strategy to script the Shiv Sena’s demise.
The memory of Ajit Pawar taking the oath with Devendra Fadnavis is still firmly etched in the minds of the Maharashtra voters before Ajit took a U-turn and joined the Maha Vikas Aghadi. Now what conspired the U-turn is still a matter of much debate, but one thing is clear, the Pawar clan is playing a devious double game with Sharad Pawar playing the good cop and praising and assuring that the unholy alliance that it is safe while the Ajit Pawar led faction jumping on the first chance possible to criticise and discredit the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
The latest flare up has come in the case of Sushant Singh Rajput whose unfortunate demise has shook the country. Several media reports and even the Bihar government have pointed out the role of Aaditya Thackeray in Sushant’s death. While all the allegations against the Thackeray Jr still remain without much backing, the shouts for an CBI enquiry to investigate Sushant’s death are rising everyday.
The Maharashtra government and the Mumbai Police understandably are vociferously against any CBI investigation despite the request of Sushant’s family, with Sanjay Raut leading the charge his trademark crass statements. Ajit Pawar’s son, Parth Pawar in a strongly worded statement went against the state government’s line and demanded for the CBI to investigate the tragic demise of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Understandably this caused a flutter in the state’s political circles, and in came Sharad Pawar to douse the fire. In a shocking statement, Sharad Pawar severely criticised his grand nephew as he labelled Parth’s demand as “immature”. When quizzed about Parth’s statement, Sharad Pawar replied, “We haven’t looked into it seriously. It is immature.” He added, “I have known the Maharashtra Police and Mumbai Police for 50 years. Have full faith in them. I don’t want to go into the allegations. This is not such an important issue.”
It was widely believed that this is yet another example of the cracks amongst the NCP as everything is not hunky dory as it seems. However, this is yet another example of a devious double game by the Pawar clan. Perhaps as a part of the “Pawar” play, while Sharad Pawar was going gung-ho to appease the NCP’s minority vote bank by severely criticising the Ayodhya Bhoomi Pujan, Parth Pawar was praising the historic foundation laying ceremony of the Ram Mandir.
There have been ample cases of such double game where Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar appear to be in a ‘tussle’ against each other. Even during the Devendra Fadnavis’ short-lived second tenure, Ajit was portrayed as the bad cop who sided with the BJP while Sharad Pawar was perceived as the sage old man who held a press conference with Uddhav shortly after the Fadnavis-Ajit duo took oath. We all know what happened after that, but perplexingly Ajit was whole heartedly taken back into the NCP fold and yet again made the Deputy Chief Minister. Ajit Pawar escaped the consequences despite openly rebelling against the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.
The Pawar double game was again shown in its full glory, when the NCP broke a handful of Sena corporators amidst the pandemic, it was Parth Pawar who welcomed the Sena corporators with reports emerging of Uddhav ordering Ajit Pawar to send his corporators back. Sharad Pawar didn’t offer any comments on this matter as he let the Ajit Pawar faction take all the blame with the NCP as a whole, ultimately benefitting.
Even during the case of Sushant Singh Rajput, Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna claimed that Sharad Pawar called Uddhav and laid out his ‘concerns’ over Arnab Goswami’s coverage of the issue as the Goswami severely criticised Uddhav’s handling of the case.
Uddhav Thackeray and Ajit Pawar are at the crossroads of their political career. While Uddhav has assumed the reigns of Shiv Sena after Balasaheb Thackeray’s passing away, Ajit too eventually aims to assume the reigns of the NCP. Both are hell bent on launching their sons, with Uddhav almost succeeding in making Aaditya the Maharashtra CM before Sharad Pawar checkmated him by offering his support only on the condition that Uddhav himself becomes the CM. Ajit Pawar had a bitter ‘fight’ with Sharad Pawar on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections as he fought for Parth’s ticket despite the senior Pawar’s concerns. Parth ultimately lost the elections amidst the Modi wave.
After the government formation, Aaditya has been dubbed as the “shadow CM” and is hogging all the limelight, much to Parth’s dismay. The alleged link of Aaditya with Sushant’s death and Aaditya’s naive insistence of not claiming Balasaheb’s Hindutva legacy has resulted in a ripe moment for Parth to be relaunched and if the past few months are any indicator, Parth is making full use of Aaditya’s shortcomings.
The NCP just like the INC has no ideology and is keeping all its options open. It has learnt from the mistake of the HD Kumaraswamy-led JDS and has accepted the role of kingmaker in the Maharashtra government. The JDS got ahead of themselves and allied with the INC to stop the single largest party, BJP to gain power in Karnataka. Shockingly, HD Kumaraswamy was made the Chief Minister in the short-lived government. Ultimately, JDS paid the price as apart from its candidates losing deposits even from safe seats in the by-polls, party patriarch and former PM Deve Gowda lost the Lok Sabha elections.
Sharad Pawar knows that the NCP can never become the single largest party in Maharashtra and he is fully aware that as long as the BJP and Shiv Sena fight apart, NCP will continue to be the kingmaker. This double game of the Pawar clan is nothing but an attempt to keep its options open and abandon the sinking ship that the MVA is at the first opportunity available thereby relegating Uddhav to the position of HD Kumaraswamy.
In this Pawar play, there are only two losers, one is the Shiv Sena whose political obituary is being written by Sharad Pawar himself and the other is the state of Maharashtra as the wannabe Chanakya is playing with the interests of Maharashtra to safeguard the future of the NCP.