Ajit Pawar, the Scorned Scion Who Bucked the Trend of Jilted Nephews in Indian Politics
It is said Ajit Pawar, known as a ground-based leader with mass appeal, believed himself to be the rightful inheritor of his uncle's legacy. But Sharad Pawar's decision to prop up his daughter as the inheritor of the NCP legacy had probably upset him.
File photo of NCP leader Sharad Pawar. (PTI)
New Delhi: Political leaders in India have, at some point, been forced into the difficult decision of choosing a successor. More often than not, they have chosen to pass the baton to their sons or daughters. Nephews, on most occasions, have been at the receiving end.
That list is long, from Harish Rao in Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) to Raj Thackeray in Maharashtra, to the Marans in Tamil Nadu to Manpreet Badal in Punjab. But Ajit ‘Dada’ Pawar, the nephew of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, isn’t one of them. He has decided to come out of his uncle’s shadow to join hands with the BJP.
The jury’s still out on whether 60-year-old Ajit engineered a split within the party or whether he joined the BJP with the blessings of his uncle.
However, if one looks back at his political life, it becomes instantly clear that the ambitious nephew was preparing to seize any opportunity to realise his political goals. In fact, within the NCP, he is known for his quick decision-making. That, combined with his popularity among the electorate and party leaders, and the image of a good administrator, gives him enough heft to take control of the party organisation.
It is said that Ajit Pawar had quite clearly expressed his ambition to become chief minister when the NCP bagged two more seats than the Congress in the Maharashtra Assembly elections, in October 2004 — he had expressed his intent of becoming the chief minister. But that was not to be. In the following elections in 2009, when the NCP-Congress government came to power again, he had to contend with the post of the deputy chief minister.
But the dispute that started with him being denied the CM's post has continued since. It was apparent to everyone when he decided to quit politics, citing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids on his uncle and Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar. However, party insiders claim Ajit Pawar was looking to get out of his uncle's shadow.
Sources add Ajit was miffed that his uncle was pulling out all the stops to ensure that his daughter, Supriya Sule, won from her Baramati Lok Sabha seat, but didn’t put in enough efforts into ensuring a win for Ajit’s son Parth Pawar. The latter lost Maval parliamentary seat by more than two lakh votes.
It is said that Ajit Pawar, who is known as a ground-based leader with mass appeal, believed himself to be the rightful inheritor of his uncle's legacy. But Sharad Pawar's decision to prop up his daughter as the inheritor of the NCP legacy had probably upset him.
"He feels that he built the party when Supriya Sule was nowhere in the picture," a party insider said. Ajit Pawar is also a powerful player in the same sugarcane lobby that Sharad Pawar has so far had a complete control over. He reportedly owns two sugarcane mills himself.
The theory about this being an actual takeover by Ajit Pawar gains strength from the fact that at late-night oath-taking ceremony, Ajit Pawar was seen only with immediate family, including son Parth and wife Sunetra.
Ajit Pawar has encountered several forked paths in his political journey. But he has shown a knack for picking ones that repaid him immensely. Very early on, Ajit had a choice between following his father, who worked closely with noted film direct V Shantaram, into Bollywood or following his uncle into politics. Over the past few days, he must have also come across a similar choice, between grabbing power for himself or seeing it being shared between members of his own party and those of the Sena and the Congress. Ajit Pawar has clearly made his choice and, at least immediately, he is not going to be regretting it.
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