Sharad Pawar's decision of not contesting Lok Sabha polls is still buzzing the political and socio-political circles in Maharashtra. His decision is not new as he didn't contest 2014 polls as well, but this time he has taken a U-turn before announcing his decision and that is causing curiosity. Did Pawar actually bend before the pressure of his family? Or is this another power game of Pawar?
"It won't be good if too many of family members contest elections. After discussing with my family, we were of the opinion that next generation should be given a chance", NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said while announcing his plans not to contest Lok Sabha elections this year. His remarks and reasons raised eyebrows. Why?
Not even a month back... on February 20, 2019: When asked whether Parth or Rohit — the third generation of Pawar clan would contest election, Sharad Pawar had said, "Neither Parth nor Rohit would be contesting Lok Sabha elections, not even Ajit Pawar. Sharad Pawar will contest."
The message was loud and clear — Sharad Pawar and besides him, his daughter Supriya Sule would contest the polls and no other family member. But Parth Pawar's name kept doing rounds for Maval constituency and finally the announcement came as U-turn on March 11, 2019.
Unlike other prominent political families, Pawar family members have not disclosed any political ambitions over senior Pawar. Sharad Pawar's words used to be final and binding for everyone in family. Then what went wrong this time? Parth Pawar — grandson of Sharad Pawar and elder son of Ajit Pawar expressed his desire to contest from Maval constituency. He has been interviewed by press since November last year and has never hidden his ambitions.
Eminent journalist Hemant Desai says, "Sharad Pawar has been tackling the family members very skillfully. Unlike other prominent political families, Pawar family has never ended up in any public spat till date. None of them have ever disclosed any disagreement within family." Perhaps, Ajit Pawar's political ambitions were never hidden but never ever splurged like this.
According to news reports in October 2012: There is no "Pawar vs Pawar masala" Sharad Pawar had said, when media was talking about Ajit Pawar camping against the supremo and Supriya Sule.
File photo of Ajit Pawar with sister Supriya Sule
Supriya Sule's entry as Rajya Sabha member in 2006 followed by contesting Lok Sabha in 2009 actually gave a set back to Ajit Pawar's leadership who was by then on the verge of becoming second in command in NCP.
He started aggressively campaigning for his own ambitions since then. It was reported then that Ajit Pawar collected signatures of party MLAs, the majority of whom backed him. He was about to send these signatures to Sharad Pawar in New Delhi but Sharad Pawar, realising the gravity, named Ajit as deputy CM of Maharashtra instead of Chagan Bhujbal. From then onwards Ajit's ambitions are not hidden. But he kept saying every time that there's no friction.
Supriya Sule repeatedly said while interacting with media, "There are no differences between me and Ajit. I'm not interested in state politics and I'm happy in Delhi."
Pawar family drama is gaining pace now with entry of third generation leaders like Parth and Rohit Pawar.
Understanding Pawar Clan
Sharad Pawar is a self-made mass leader. He started his political stint at an early age and became chief minister of Maharashtra at the age of 37. In 1991, Pawar was regarded as the likely next Congress prime minister, only for the job to go to PV Narasimha Rao.
Pawar had said publicly that his mother Shardabai was the driving force behind it. She was an elected member of local committee and was active in Peasants and Labour Party formed by Keshawrao Jedhe. Interestingly, the same party is supporting Parth Pawar's candidature in Maval in 2019.
Even after parting away with INC to establish his own Nationalist Congress Party, his ambition of becoming PM was never hidden. Very cleverly he made space for his next generation. First came Ajit Pawar, his nephew.
Ajit is son of Anantrao, elder brother of Sharad Pawar. He was elected in Lok Sabha in 1991 from Baramati while Sharad Pawar was chief minister of Maharashtra. But Ajit Pawar vacated his seat soon to give way for his uncle who became Union minister then. Since then Ajit started concentrating on state politics under his uncle's guidance. He became deputy chief minister of Maharashtra in 2012 but his ambition of becoming CM washed away as the BJP came in power in 2014. Now he is the one who is insisting on Parth Pawar's candidature for Lok Sabha.
Parth Pawar, the 28-year-old elder son of Ajit Pawar is a new face. He's camping in Maval constituency for a year now. Much of this constituency includes areas of Pimpri Chinchwad near Pune. Since last October, Parth's name is making rounds in local media as probable candidate for Lok Sabha. In October 2018 Sharad Pawar had announced that he won't be contesting election this time.
Maval area is considered as strong hold of Ajit Pawar. Maval Lok Sabha constituency is currently with Shiv Sena. MP Shrirang Barne got elected consecutively for second time from here.
Thirty-three-year-old Rohit Pawar is the second prominent name in third generation Pawar family. Rohit is grandson of Appasaheb Pawar, nephew of Ajit Pawar and elder brother of Sharad Pawar.
He is the son of Rajendra and Sunanda Pawar. Rohit is active in local politics since past more than five years. As a polished new generation leader, he has developed good relations with media and with his ground level party workers as well. He's elected member of Pune Zilha Parishad and has never hidden his ambitions to contest Assembly polls. "I would love to contest, but it's family's call as well and Saheb's decision will be final for us," he was quoted as saying.
Rohit wrote a Facebook post in Marathi after Sharad Pawar announced his decision of not contesting polls. He urged, "Saheb please reconsider your decision of not contesting polls." His remarks also suggested dissonance within the Pawar clan. But Rohit was quick enough to suggest, "There's no such disagreement. Any problem within the family had always been resolved through dialogue."
Pawar clan is again giving the same clarification again after 13 years. There was speculation that Ajit was highly insecure about his place in the party after Supriya Sule's entry into politics in 2006. Ajit Pawar himself had said then, "no friction and uncle would make a final decision."
The ball is in grandfather's court now.