Politics and loyalty go hand-in-hand for a long long time in Indian political history. But, often we find some dubious exceptions to this legacy of loyal political leaders. One such rare exception is Sharad Pawar, a strongman from Maharashtra. Sharad Pawar has been one of the longest-running active politicians of today’s times. Besides being a 3-time Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Union Minister for Agriculture and Defence, Pawar holds the qualification of being the most untrustable politician, India could have ever produced. He is known to be the man who will always do something opposite, to what he speaks about publicly.
Born in the Baramati district of Maharashtra in 1940, Sharad Pawar was an average student academically but had a strong attraction towards politics from the word go. He started college politics at the ripe age of 18 when he joined the Youth Congress. Pawar always had the cult and greed for power from his primary days in the Congress when he came close to Congress strongman Yashwantrao Chavan, the most influential politician of those times.
At a young age of 27, he was preferred to be the candidate for Congress to contest the Maharashtra Assembly Elections from Baramati constituency which he later turned into a fortress for his own family. While he worked heavily in the agricultural sector during his early days as the MLA from Baramati, he was also heavily involved in the politics of the local cooperative sugar mills and other member run cooperatives societies.When the Congress party decided to nurture its future generation in Maharashtra, Pawar was inducted in the then CM Vasantrao Naik’s cabinet as the Home Minister backed by the strong support of Yashwantrao Chavan. He later continued on the same portfolio in Shankarrao Chavan’s govt from 1975-77.
Following the Congress party’s rout in 1977 Loksabha Elections began the journey of defections for Pawar when he joined Congress (U). Sooner in 1978, he defected from his Congress alliance government, cheating on CM Vasantdada Patil and formed an alliance with the Janata Party, with the sole ambition to become the Chief Minister himself. He went on to create a record of being the youngest CM of Maharashtra that he still holds.
In 1984, he contested the Baramati Loksabha seat for the first time and became an MP. Few months later, he contested the Assembly elections as well and returned to state politics. He became a leader of the opposition of the Progressive Democratic Front that included BJP, PWP and the Janata Party. In 1987, he jumped sides to return to Congress (I) with the mission to rescue Congress culture in Maharashtra. This period also noticed the emergence of Shivsena. Pawar once again became the CM of Maharashtra in 1987 and then in 1990. By this time, Pawar had already started dreaming to become the Prime Minister of India following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. His aspirations were first dashed by P.V. Narsimha Rao and later by Sonia Gandhi. Pawar also served as the Leader of Opposition in the 12th Loksabha. Noticing the strong opposition to his aspirations of becoming the PM being crushed with the emergence of Sonia Gandhi as Congress Queen.
He went on to oppose Sonia for her Italian origin thereby floating the Nationalist Congress Party in 1999. But this move somehow restricted Pawar now, only for Maharashtra as a leader where BJP-Shivsena alliance also had become highly dominating. While in 2004, Pawar joined the UPA government again as an alliance partner but his dominance in national politics was very much cut down only to Maharashtra. Meanwhile, Pawar also entered the cricket world from Mumbai Cricket Association to become the Chairman of the BCCI and later the ICC.
During his entire political career, Pawar and controversies have always gone hand-in-hand. Pawar’s links with hardened criminals like Dawood Ibrahim, Pappu Kalani & Hitendra Thakur, his alleged connections with Shahid Balwa of the 2G spectrum scam, Pawar’s controversial connection in the stamp paper scam, economic irregularities in the Lavasa project, his dubious stand during the 1993 Mumbai Bomb Blasts, etc are some of the incidents that raise a big question mark of Pawar’s credibility as the head of allegedly anti-nationalist NCP. His party never had any ideology similar to what Pawar too is. He is known to be a stirrer of an anti-brahmin in Maharashtra and has the legacy of doing appeasement of the minorities and the Dalits just to create his own political relevance at regular intervals. Various media reports on these issues raise these concerns on Pawar.
His treacherous and conniving political strategies have always hit the headlines during his entire career. This trend continues even till today as he runs the government of Maharashtra overshadowing CM Uddhav Thackeray. Narendra Modi’s emergence as the PM in 2014 is inadvertently the last nail in the coffin for his dreams to become India’s Prime Minister.