In a significant statement, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar has said that he does not believe that the ideology of Shiv Sena founder-patriarch, the late Balasaheb Thackeray was ‘in sync’ with that of its former ally Bharatiya Janata Party.
“The Balasaheb Thackeray that I knew, maybe you know him better… but I never felt that his (Balasaheb’s) ideology, his working style was in sync with that of the BJP,” the senior leader said.
The NCP chief’s remark came in a marathon interview with ‘Saamana’ and ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’ Group’s Executive Editor Sanjay Raut on a wide variety of current interest topics.
In this context, Pawar said that Shiv Sena majorly contributed to the BJP’s victory in the October 2019 assembly elections, helping the latter achieve the figure of 105 seats to emerge as the single largest party in the state.
“I think, if the Sena had not been the BJP’s ally, then that figure (105), would have been around 40-50 seats. The BJP leaders took Shiv Sena for granted though it helped them win 105 seats,” Pawar asserted, sparking off a potential political row with the BJP.
The NCP chief’s response was to a query by Raut whether it was strange how a party (BJP) which was thrown up as the single-largest group failed to form the state government or a miracle which ultimately an unexpected alliance of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress took power in November 2019.
Brushing aside suggestions that it was some kind of a ‘miracle’, Pawar hinted that the BJP even committed the error of taking the “voter for granted”, referring to then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ oft-repeated slogan – “Mee Punha Yaeena (I will return).
“When a political leader makes such a statement, the voters get the impression that it is ‘hubris’ and they decide to teach him a lesson. When people think that we (politicians) are crossing the limits, they don’t like it. This doesn’t work in politics,” Pawar explained.
Recalling the previous Shiv Sena-BJP government in 1995, he said it was completely under the control of Sena and Balasaheb Thackeray, but in the next round from 2014-2019, the BJP had virtually ‘sidelined’ Sena, it conveyed the notion that “nobody else can rule”, treated the people as a ‘jaagir’ (fiefdom), which ultimately led to (BJP’s) the debacle.
Citing similar historical instances, the NCP supremo said a leader like Indira Gandhi with tremendous mass support had to taste defeat, even Atal Bihar Vajpayee was vanquished, proving that “the common man of this country is more intelligent than the leaders when it comes to his democratic rights”.
Dwelling on Balasaheb Thackeray’s style of functioning, Pawar fondly recalled how he always respected people, like Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, but he was not always opposed to the Congress, nor did he harbour any hatred for the party (Congress).
“He was a fearless yet forgiving personality. Such magnanimous people are rare in politics. He supported Indira Gandhi during the Emergency, and surprisingly, even did not put up Sena candidates for the next elections to stand by her. This was shocking and unprecedented. He could maintain excellent personal relations even with his staunch political opponents and was never bothered about the repercussions. Once, he even ensured that Supriya Sule should get elected unopposed. Only Balasaheb Thackeray could do all this and he did that,” Pawar said.
To a query whether Pawar wielded the ‘remote control’, the NCP chief laughingly brushed aside the suggestion and said that the three-party government is a “successful experiment” in the state with Uddhav Thackeray doing an excellent job as CM.
Giving full marks to the government’s performance, Pawar – the chief architect of the MVA asserted: “No… none of these… I am not a headmaster, not a remote control… this is a democratic government and cannot be run by any remote control… the government is run by the CM and his council of ministers.”
Incidentally, this is the first time that a top national leader has been interviewed for the ‘Saamana’ by Raut, who has earlier done hundreds of interview sessions with Balasaheb Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray and now plans to grill some other national leaders soon.