NEW DELHI :
From stitching together a pre-poll alliance to making all ends meet in keeping the flock together post poll, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has taken centre stage in the last one week in the rapidly changing political contours of Maharashtra’s government formation. With Devendra Fadnavis announcing his resignation, Pawar would be credited for ensuring that the three party alliance was able to tide over a number of challenges and is now on its way to form government in the state.
For the 78 year old veteran leader whose political career has spanned well over five decades, the last five days have not only exposed the chinks in his political family but also laid bare the threat of a possible split in his 20 year old party which seems to be averted for now. In a breather for the Maha Vikas Aghadi, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the floor test should be completed by 5PM on Wednesday followed by Fadnavis’ announcement of resignation.
Behind the curtains, senior opposition leaders say that Pawar, known to be an astute politician, used his ability as the ‘consensus man’ to forge understanding between Shiv Sena and Congress, two ideologically opposite parties through a series of meetings. After the events of the weekend unfolded with his nephew Ajit Pawar joining hands with BJP to be sworn in as the deputy chief minister, Sharad Pawar was quick to hold a joint presser with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to clear the air and reassert the three parties being together.
It would now be interesting to see how the three parties go ahead from here. The first immediate test would be the floor test which would be likely scheduled for after it formally stakes claim. In the past few days, newly elected MLAs of all the three parties have been in high end hotels in Mumbai over fears of poaching. On late Tuesday evening, in a show of strength, the three parties paraded their MLAs for a photo op under the backdrop of “Aamhi 162" or “We are 162".
The developments in Maharashtra could now seal the political fortunes of Sharad Pawar whose lasting image in the campaign was a rain drenched photo of his addressing an election rally in Satara. All eyes will now be on whether the “Renaissance Man", as termed by NCP spokesperson Clyde Crasto while punning over the name of a hotel in Mumbai where the party MLAs were earlier staying, on when it makes a formal bid to power returning in government after a gap of five years.