These days there is a war going on between Sharad Pawar and his nephew for the control of NCP. Let us tell you how Sharad Pawar established NCP. Read Arjun Sengupta’s report
There is ruckus in NCP at this time. There is a war going on between uncle Sharad Pawar and nephew Ajit Pawar for control of the party. Ajit Pawar has become a minister in the NDA government in Maharashtra and a large section of party MLAs are with him. It has been claimed by their faction that Ajit Pawar is now the President of NCP while Sharad Pawar claims that the name and symbol of the party will remain with him. Political analyst Suhas Palshikar believes that this time could be the most difficult moment in Sharad Pawar’s political career.
Born in a farmer’s family Sharad Pawar was born in the year 1940 in a family of local farmer leaders of Baramati. Baramati is about 100 kms from Pune. This area is known for sugarcane crop. Sharad Pawar’s father Govindrao was instrumental in setting up cooperative sugar mills in the area.
Started political journey with Congress- Sharad Pawar started his political career in the year 1958 with the youth wing of the Congress Party. By the mid-60s, he was counted among the firebrand leaders of the Congress party in Maharashtra. In the year 1967, Sharad Pawar contested the assembly elections from Baramati for the first time. At that time, the command of Congress in the state was in the hands of Yashwantrao Chavan. He was the CM of the state and was considered the tallest leader in the Maharashtra Congress at that time.
Youngest CM of Maharashtra
In the year 1969, there was a split in the Congress party, during which Sharad Pawar along with his mentor went to Indira Gandhi’s faction. His stature within the party increased further in the 70s. In the year 1975, he was made a cabinet minister. After the Emergency, the Congress suffered a resounding defeat, the party once again faced a split. This time Sharad Pawar was against Indira. In the year 1978, he became the youngest Chief Minister in the history of Maharashtra. He led the Congress (U) and Janata Party coalition government. Although his government could not last long, Indira Gandhi dismissed his government after returning to power in the year 1980.
Sharad Pawar once again returned to the Congress in the year 1986 and in the next decade he was counted among the most influential leaders of the country. Sharad Pawar remained in the Congress party till 1999, but a tussle had started between him and the top Congress leadership about a decade ago. After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, a leadership vacuum was created in the Congress. Rajiv was only 46 years old at that time and it is believed that he would lead the Congress for a long time to come.
After the Congress party won the Lok Sabha elections, Sharad Pawar openly expressed his ambitions for the post of PM. He believed that his claim to the post of PM was most justified considering the huge success achieved by the Congress in the state of Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha elections. However, the Congress party elected veteran PV Narasimha Rao for this.
‘He will be a long race horse’
In his autobiography ‘Life on My Terms – From the Grassroots to the Corridors of Power’, Sharad Pawar has blamed Sonia Gandhi for this. He wrote, “The self-styled loyalists of 10 Janpath started talking amongst themselves that if Sharad Pawar is elected PM, the interests of the First Family would be harmed because of his young age. His reasoning was that he would be ‘that long race horse’.”
However, Sharad Pawar’s differences with Sonia Gandhi were not the only reason for the weakening of the Congress. During that time, internal strife and factionalism were also taking a heavy toll on the Congress party. In the year 1998, Sonia Gandhi was elected the National President of the Congress. This enraged many senior Congress leaders including Sharad Pawar.
Former President of the country Pranab Mukherjee has written about this in his biography. He was in the Congress party before becoming the President. He has indicated in his book that Sharad Pawar was feeling isolated in the party. In 1999, as the country headed towards the Lok Sabha elections, Sharad Pawar along with senior Congress leaders PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar raised the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin and claimed that it would be wiser to replace her. . Sonia Gandhi immediately offered to resign, prompting an outpouring of sympathy and support from within the party.
Establishment of NCP in June 1999
Sharad Pawar founded NCP on 10 June 1999 after defecting from Congress. It is worth noting that shortly after this, Sharad Pawar and his party formed an alliance with the Congress to form the government in Maharashtra. Leaders like Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal and Dilip Walse Patil became ministers in this government. This alliance remained in power in the state till 2014.
Agriculture minister in Manmohan government
Sharad Pawar was made a minister in the Manmohan Singh government in the year 2004. He held the Ministry of Agriculture from 2004 to 2010. The NCP grew steadily during this period, gaining a good foothold in the rural belt of Maharashtra. During this Sharad Pawar was also accused of corruption. He also held the post of BCCI President. During this, his critics accused him of focusing more on cricket than ministry.
Lost power after the start of the Modi era
With the beginning of the Modi era in 2014, the NCP was voted out of power both at the Center and in Maharashtra. However, during this period, the NCP supported the minority government of the BJP from outside for some time, when the NCP left the BJP. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, NCP contested on 34 seats but won only 5. However, in 2019, after the BJP-Shiv Sena rift, the MVA government was formed. Sharad Pawar is said to be its mastermind.