Sharad Pawar, the Grand Old Man of Indian Politics is the Man of the Moment

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The stratagem that yielded results in Goa, Manipur and Karnataka, has failed to reap benefits in Maharashtra. The ‘invincible’ combination of Narendra Modi-Amit Shah has failed to hoist a BJP government by hook or crook in one of India’s richest states. The Supreme Court’s intervention asking for a floor test by 5 pm on Wednesday has perhaps put the death knell on the Gujarati brothers’ ambitions for the time being.

The clandestine swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis with support from turncoat Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) caught us unaware at a time when the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance with the numbers had ensured government formation in the state with the BJP pushed out of the scene. But as has been the BJP’s forte, behind-the-scene machinations riding on the luxury of being in power at the Centre, gave a jolt to the three-party alliance.

But with the Supreme Court stepping in, the game is over it seems for the saffron party (unless last-minute shockers turn the tables). Well, anything is possible in the murky world of politics.

And this is where experience comes into play. Pawar is a master strategist and his over 50-year experience of tackling inclemency and unpredictability has scored over the guileful Modi and Shah. In other words, the BJP chariot has been ‘held in captive’ in Maharashtra by the diligence of a man who has been a witness to several ups and downs on the Indian political map.

The Man of the Match as things stand now, is the Grand Old Man of Indian Politics – Sharad Pawar. Despite his nephew Ajit Pawar’s perfidy, he held his own and has managed to cobble up the numbers and is set to pave the way for a non-BJP government in the state.

And this is where experience comes into play. Pawar is a master strategist and his over 50-year experience of tackling inclemency and unpredictability has scored over the guileful Modi and Shah. In other words, the BJP chariot has been ‘held in captive’ in Maharashtra by the diligence of a man who has been a witness to several ups and downs on the Indian political map.

The last few days since the declaration of the results in Maharashtra have been hectic for Pawar. With the BJP and Shiv Sena falling out over the 50-50 arrangement despite winning the people’s verdict, the champion politician adept at catching opponents on the wrong foot, has had too many hurdles to clear. If the idea of joining hands with an ideologically-different Shiv Sena was a predicament, Pawar had the arduous task of bringing his ally Congress on board. And in the process, he defied his age to travel between Mumbai and Delhi to give solidity to the three-party alliance. And he also had to assuage any iota of doubt in his allies’ minds that the ED case against him could be a stumbling block for the Sena-NCP-Congress trio to come under the same roof. There were speculations that the meeting between Modi and Pawar in Delhi might just see Pawar reneging on his stance, but that was not to be.

Well, Pawar may have scotched all rumours of giving in to the Centre’s threat and even the provocations of being backed as the next President, but the acid test starts now. If he has defused the moves of Modi and Shah, the Maratha strongman from Baramati will now have to be on the money to ensure smooth functioning of the government that comprises allies who cross swords ideologically. And trust us, it is Pawar who will be the go-to man if a crisis arises. And let’s not overlook the fact that amid this quandary (in the last 20-25 days), Pawar may have settled all scores to consecrate his daughter Supriya Sule as his successor.

The defection of his nephew Ajit who claimed that he had the numbers did place the senior Pawar on a sticky wicket, but he was quick to clarify that he had nothing to do with Ajit’s support to Fadnavis. And since Saturday (when the hush-hush oath took place), Pawar has had to use all his experience to set his house in order and make sure that he is not seen with suspicion by his partners. The end result has gone in his favour as he has managed to snub all impediments to show the BJP the exit door.

As things stand now, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress has the numbers and it is a given that they will win the floor test handsomely tomorrow. With Fadnavis having conceded defeat and Ajit too stepping down from the post of the Deputy Chief Minister, the decks are cleared – Uddhav Thackeray will lead the Maharashtra Development Alliance and is on the verge of scripting history – the first from the Thackeray family to head the state – a promise that Uddhav had made to his father – the indomitable Bal Thackeray.

Well, Pawar may have scotched all rumours of giving in to the Centre’s threat and even the provocations of being backed as the next President, but the acid test starts now. If he has defused the moves of Modi and Shah, the Maratha strongman from Baramati will now have to be on the money to ensure smooth functioning of the government that comprises allies who cross swords ideologically. And trust us, it is Pawar who will be the go-to man if a crisis arises. And let’s not overlook the fact that amid this quandary (in the last 20-25 days), Pawar may have settled all scores to consecrate his daughter Supriya Sule as his successor.

Pawar may not hold any official position in the government, but he will have to essay the role of a troubleshooter, if he is to prevent the resurgence of BJP in Maharashtra.

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