33 year old story of rebellion against Sharad Pawar, when Rajiv Gandhi called him to Delhi, they clashed

In 1990, leaders like Sushil Kumar Shinde to Vilasrao Deshmukh rebelled against Sharad Pawar. The matter had reached Delhi.

There has been a split in Sharad Pawar’s party NCP. Ajit Pawar not only became the deputy CM in the Maharashtra government, but is also staking his claim on the NCP. Ajit says that most of the MLAs of the party are with him. This is not the first time that there has been such a rebellion against Sharad Pawar. In the year 1990, when Sharad Pawar was in Congress and was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, at that time leaders like Sushil Kumar Shinde to Vilasrao Deshmukh had opened a front against Pawar. The matter had escalated so much that Rajiv Gandhi had to intervene.

Who rebelled against Pawar?

Sharad Pawar has written in detail on that rebellion of 33 years ago in his biography ‘on his own terms: from the ground reality to the corridors of power’ published by Rajkamal Prakashan. Pawar writes that in 1990, some eminent leaders of the Maharashtra Congress raised the flag of rebellion against us. Maharashtra Congress State President Sushil Kumar Shinde, Shankarrao (SB) Chavan, Vitthal Rao Gadgil and A.R. Antulay also stood in the line of these rebels.

Pawar writes, ‘Opponents in a press conference that if I continue as Chief Minister, the Congress will be harmed in the state. So he cannot work with me, and he demanded my immediate resignation. I didn’t have the slightest problem with these rebels, all this was happening at the behest of the high command in Delhi. When the dispute increased, it was decided that it would be settled in the meeting of the State Legislative Assembly Congress Committee. Delhi to G.K. Moopanar and Ghulam Nabi Azad came as central observers. In that meeting, most of the MLAs made it clear that they will not accept any imposed decision without voting.

Police left the rebel leaders till the car

Sharad Pawar writes that on the same day in the evening the votes were divided by voting, about 190 MLAs/MLCs. were in our favor, while only 20 MLAs were in favor of leadership change. A large number of party workers were also present at the venue to know the outcome of that meeting of MLAs. As soon as the decision was announced, there was a wave of jubilation among the workers, but the anger against the rebel group was also clearly visible. To avoid any untoward incident, the opposition leaders were escorted to their cars under police protection. Moopanar and Azad went to Delhi and told everything to the high command. After this, M.L. Got a call from Fotedar that Rajiv Gandhi wanted to meet me.

Rajiv Gandhi called Pawar to Delhi

Pawar writes that as soon as I entered Rajiv Gandhi’s room, Rajiv sarcastically asked, ‘So what is happening?’ I replied- ‘You know better than us… Everyone in Mumbai worked very efficiently as per your instructions, but unfortunately could not gather support.’ Rajeev had no choice but to admit his own involvement in the incident. He said in a very devious way, ‘No, no, something went wrong there. I told them to only move the tree, not to uproot it.


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Sharad Pawar writes that I had decided that I would not allow Sushil Kumar Shinde to continue as State Congress President at any cost, but Rajiv did not agree to this. Because the removal of Shinde would have meant proving the weakness of the high command. I asked him, how can I tolerate it when the President of the State Committee of the party holds a press conference demanding the resignation and removal of the Chief Minister? After much debate it was decided that Shinde would be given a place in the cabinet and Shivajirao Nilangekar would become the president.


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Let what happened happen…

After this, it was the turn of the cabinet reconstitution. Even then I told Rajiv Gandhi, ‘I will not keep rebel ministers in the cabinet. Not punishing them will send a wrong message to the state, which is not in the interest of the party. Rajeev disagreed with this and was feeling uneasy. He wanted to include the rebel ministers in the cabinet at any cost. After a long debate, I said, ‘I understand your problem. He (Rajiv) asked, ‘What is my problem? I replied, ‘They rebelled at your behest, how can you spare them? Rajiv Gandhi remained silent for a while and then said, ‘Okay, whatever is past is past. Come, now go ahead.’

When Shinde reached to apologize

Pawar writes that after a few days Sushil Kumar Shinde and Vilasrao Deshmukh came to meet me. He was penitent and humbly admitted, like a submissive person, ‘We will never repeat such an incident. Since Vilasrao and I had a very cordial relationship. We had worked together for a long time in politics and cricket, so I immediately put an end to this incident.


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