DC Edit | Pawar's pragmatic politics
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has bought time, and peace, by his decision to drop the plan to quit his post and hand over the party to the next generation. His decision could also boost the efforts to forge a platform which the Opposition parties could board in an effort to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Pawar dropped the bombshell by announcing his retirement at a time when speculation was rife that party leader and his nephew Ajit Pawar could split the party and take a faction to the BJP camp. That could have meant the marginalisation of the NCP, which has recently lost its status as a national party, in the only one state where it still is a factor to be reckoned with. It would also have had a cascading effect nationally, and the stature of Mr Pawar would have taken a hit there, too. He has, for the time being averted that possibility. While the party rank and file and even leaders from friendly parties have vouched for Mr Pawar’s leadership, it would be tough for the second rung to successfully execute a split and still survive. Mr Pawar will now have time to work on the faultlines within the party and steer it on to a path which he thinks is right.
Mr Pawar is one of the few leaders with whom every single Opposition party leader, be it Mamata Banerjee or Rahul Gandhi, is comfortable to work with. Mr Pawar’s announcement that he would work towards preparing a common minimum programme for the Opposition before the Lok Sabha polls is an ambitious target which would demand marshalling all his negotiating skills as the Opposition is such a disparate group. A CMP will be necessary but not necessarily a sufficient element even for putting up a fight against the Narendra Modi-led NDA.
Mr Pawar has carefully played his cards, got his party firmly behind him and bargained a better position on the national political scene by his announcements first to quit, and then to return to, his party position. It looks like Mr Pawar and practical politics are inseparable twins.