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2-min read

Written Off Before Polls, Old Horse Sharad Pawar Braves Defections, Corruption Case and Rain to Bring Oppn Back in Race

Sharad Pawar, though his party saw a large number of defections, stood tall whether it be the ED's money laundering case against him or when he braved a spell of rain while campaigning in Satara.

Suhas Munshi | News18.com

Updated:October 24, 2019, 11:44 PM IST
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Written Off Before Polls, Old Horse Sharad Pawar Braves Defections, Corruption Case and Rain to Bring Oppn Back in Race
Illustration by Mir Suhail (News18.com)

The old horse of Maharashtra politics, Sharad Pawar, may just have pulled the opposition out of near certain irrelevance. While Congress leaders in the state were seen to be fighting openly against each other, Pawar, though his party saw a large number of defections, stood tall whether it be the ED's money laundering case against him or when he braved a spell of rain while campaigning in Satara.

Going by the early trends, it seems that while Congress+NCP might still not win the state they will end up doing much better than everyone's expectations, thanks to Pawar. At the moment the NCP's seat projections are much better than those of the Congress. Above everyone else, it is Pawar who may end up emerging as the face of opposition and claim the Leader of Opposition (LoP) status in the assembly.

The situation may turn out to be quite like the post-poll scenario of 2004 assembly elections, when the Congress and the NCP first decided to get into a pre-poll arrangement in which NCP emerged as the larger party with 71 seats compared to Congress' 69 while Congress managed to still get its partyman Vilasrao Deshmukh installed as the Chief Minister.

The NCP which was seen to have sacrificed the CM's post, was given 24 ministerial berths in the state cabinet with a strength of 42.

NCP's comeback, considering many had written it off before results started coming in on Thursday, is startling considering how a case against its chief - Sharad Pawar - was filed by Enforcement Directorate, and how one of its lieutenants - Praful Patel - personally targeted by both Prime Minister Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah who alleged him to have done deals with the underworld don Iqbal Mirchi.

Pawar without being summoned walked towards the ED office, flanked by a huge number of supporters, and gave rousing statements to media, "We in Maharashtra follow the principles of Maratha warrior King Shivaji and so we won’t bow down before the Delhi throne. This is not part of the culture in Maharashtra." That there was fight still left in him was clearly evident.

His video of delivering a speech amid heavy downpour in Satara, for a Parliamentary bypoll also went viral. And it has paid dividends as Udayanraje Bhosale, who had switched to the BJP just before the election, trails Shriniwas Patil of the NCP by over 30,000 votes.

If the early trends hold it would indicate a strong comeback by Pawar whose party was reduced to 4 seats in the recent Parliamentary polls in Maharashtra, where Prime Minister Modi and Pawar exchanged some very bitter and personal remarks. It would mean that the Pawar era is yet not over.

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