Sharad Pawar proves he is 'Saheb' in Maharashtra

Sharad Pawar

Drenching in rains in his iconic spotless-white half-shirt, the photo of Sharad Pawar went viral on social media, just hours before people pressed buttons in EVMs.

When NCP got 54 seats amid political diatribe from the side of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, the 79-year-old Maratha strongman was clearly the man-of-the-match.

And now,  after dislodging Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his rebel nephew Ajit Pawar and installing a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance government, he also became the man-of-the-series.

Whether it is politics, cricket or wrestling, he is unbeatable. In the real sense, he is Chanakya of politics.

Pawar, popularly called Saheb, has been a four-time Maharashtra CM, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Defence Minister in PV  Narsimha Rao government and Agriculture Minister in Dr Manmohan Singh government -  a great tenure in politics. 

After the 2014 and 2019 debacle in Lok Sabha polls, getting into act to boost the 20-year-old NCP on the go was a challenge. 

When the Mumbai Police and Enforcement Directorate lodged an FIR against him and his nephew Ajit Pawar in the alleged Rs 25,000 crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam, he turned tables by announcing that he will walk to ED office. The Mumbai police requested him not to do so - and from here he started the poll campaign amid sympathy.

In every rally, he said the NCP-Congress will return to power. 

In fact, Fadnavis had attacked him saying that there was no "wrestler" left in the fray to challenge BJP. 

Pawar responded saying that he was the President of Maharashtra State Wrestling Association. "The CM (Fadnavis) says they have wrestlers everywhere. I said kid, there are wrestlers who do not know how to wrestle," he said. Fadnavis preferred not to respond. 

But after the polls, Fadnavis acknowledged saying: "Our experience of getting wet in rain fell short."

After the fractured mandate and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray's demand for post of Chief Minister, he sensed an opportunity to isolate BJP in Maharashtra and begin an anti-BJP campaign.

But when his nephew Ajit Pawar walked out to BJP camp, the veteran burnt midnight's oil to ensure that the rebel is shown his place.

At a time when Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Uddhav and his own partymen lost hopes, he kept on saying: "Don't worry, our government will come".

And finally, politics in Maharashtra changed. 

Pawar thus told the NCP and Pawar parivar that he is the big boss.

Pawar, who has never lost a Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha poll, is known for his fighting spirit. 

In the BCCI elections, after one setback, he came as the chief and went on to become ICC President. He had taken on Jagmohan Dalmiya when they acted as "bowlers and umpires".

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