Sharad Pawar’s bitter relationship with Prithviraj Chavan and state Congress ensured that NCP single-handedly put a twist in Maharashtra’s political tale last week by first waiting for the BJP-Sena split and then snapping ties with the Congress
Initially, not many were aware why the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) snapped ties with Congress and withdrew support from Prithviraj Chavan-led government on Thursday soon after BJP’s announcement of breaking alliance with Shiv Sena. According to sources, the NCP ensured there would be complete break-up between BJP and Shiv Sena before they toppled Congress government as a plan to seek revenge against Chavan. By doing so, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP ensured that Sena-BJP couldn’t form the government.
The drama will come full circle with the imposition of President’s rule, which is imminent with Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao’s report to the union government in a day or two. According to senior bureaucrats from Mantralaya, if BJP and Sena would have studied the political developments they would have enjoyed power during the electoral code of conduct.
Game of thrones
On Thursday evening, BJP announced its decision to call off its 25-year-long relationship with Shiv Sena, citing deadlock over the seat-sharing issue for the upcoming assembly polls as the reason. Senior NCP leaders, monitoring the situation closely at the party’s state headquarters, changed the time of the media briefing twice. Initially it was assumed that the NCP and BJP were trying to make an announcement at the same time. But, clearly it was more than that. The NCP wanted to topple the Chavan-led government and also ensure that the BJP announced its decision to snap ties with Sena so they do not remain in a position to form the next government.
Soon after the NCP announced its decision, a letter of withdrawal of support was submitted to the Governor on Thursday night. On Friday morning, the Governor summoned CM Prithviraj Chavan and informed him about this development. As per legal provisions, he asked whether Chavan was in a position to prove his majority. After seeking some time, the latter submitted his resignation on Friday afternoon.
On Saturday morning, the Governor got in touch with the BJP and Shiv Sena separately and inquired whether either of the parties was able and willing to form the government. Since both the parties had already parted ways, they told the Governor that they didn’t have the majority.
If both the partners of the erstwhile saffron alliance were in a cordial relationship, they could have mustered the required support by approaching smaller parties and independents. This would have helped them keep the state machinery —state administration and police — under check during the poll period.
BJP’s leader of opposition Eknath Khadse confirmed that the Governor had got in touch with him and told sunday mid-day, “I conveyed to the Governor our inability to form the government.”
NCP’s ‘revenge’: State to come under Prez rule
It was NCP in general and outgoing Dy CM Ajit Pawar, in particular, who fulfilled a dream of toppling the Prithviraj Chavan-led government. The NCP was deeply upset over the manner in which Chavan cut the party to size. Party leaders have always maintained that Chavan fuelled the controversy over the multi-crore-irrigation scam. Apart from others, he also played a significant role in disbanding the director board of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, controlled by NCP.
Troubled relations between Sharad Pawar and Prithviraj Chavan
Be it the disbanding of the NCP-dominated board of Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, a cash-rich body, or adding his might to the multi-crore irrigation scam, the animosity between NCP and Congress CM Prithviraj Chavan grew in the last four years.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s most controversial comments on “the chief minister’s paralysis” against Chavan were indicative of troubled relations.
NCP leaders claim Chavan maintains a deep grudge against their party because Pawar’s buddy Srinivas Patil, ex-bureaucrat and a political novice defeated Chavan on his home turf Karad in 1999 Lok Sabha elections. Chavan has been unable to digest his defeat in a constituency representated by his father Anandrao alias Dajisaheb Chavan and mother Premalatai without a single defeat. He appointed secretaries to the departments of NCP ministers and ensured they do not get to work on their own terms.
Proposals mooted by NCP ministers, decisions related with Pune, home district of Pawars used to get delayed. In short NCP was forced to be paralytic thanks to master strategies, said a senior NCP leader.