Sunday, July 14, 2024

Ajit Pawar’s Defection : A Game of Thrones in Maharashtra

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The National Congress Party of Maharashtra came into existence in 1999. Sharad Pawar, the founder of the NCP, changed the political playground in Maharashtra by splitting from the Indian National Congress and forming a new political party. Since then this party has played the role of lynchpin and kingmaker at different times in the state’s political arena.

The recent news of Sharad Pawar’s retirement sparked intense speculation about the future of NCP in Maharashtra. The leader’s public image is related to the adjectives like unbiased, incorruptible, grounded, and steadfast. However, when the time came to pass the baton; he succumbed to nepotism. He crowned his daughter, Supriya Sule, as the working party president of NCP in hopes of continuing the legacy and maintaining control over the party. However, the party faced a significant blow when Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar’s nephew and a prominent leader, defected to the BJP-Shiv Sena (Shinde faction). He took with him 40 MLAs in hopes of claiming the throne of NCP for himself.

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The Rise of NCP in Maharashtra

Nagaland: NCP to decide on joining NDPP-BJP government in the state - Nagaland: NCP to decide on joining NDPP BJP government in the state -
PC India Today

Several factors were responsible for the rise of NCP in Maharashtra. Firstly, the disillusionment of voters with the Indian National Congress provided an opportunity for a new political force to emerge. The NCP capitalized on this sentiment by presenting itself as an alternative to the Congress, promising a fresh and dynamic approach to governance. Additionally, NCP’s ability to forge alliances with other regional parties in Maharashtra further contributed to its rise. These alliances allowed the NCP to garner support from various sections of society and expand its political base.

Furthermore, the NCP’s focus on development and addressing key issues faced by the state resonated with voters. The party’s emphasis on infrastructure development, agriculture reforms, and welfare programs helped in gaining the trust of the people.

Ajit Pawar, the nephew of Sharad Pawar, quickly rose to prominence within the NCP ranks. With his astute political acumen and charisma, Ajit Pawar played a pivotal role in strengthening the party’s presence in Maharashtra. His dynamic leadership and grassroots connect helped the NCP make inroads into various regions of the state. Ajit Pawar’s ability to mobilize supporters and rally voters significantly contributed to the party’s rise in Maharashtra politics. In 2019, he defected to Devendra Fadnavis’ BJP to aid in forming a new government in Maharashtra for a short-lived period of 80 hours.

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The Fall of NCP in Maharashtra

Secretive defections': Sharad Pawar's party moves against Ajit Pawar and Co. - India Today
PC India Today

The defection of Ajit Pawar dealt a severe blow to the NCP in Maharashtra. His defection can directly lead to NCP’s fall and the ultimate downfall of Sharad Pawar. However, the blame can only lie on the dynastic political approach of Sharad Pawar. His attempts to keep restrict Ajit Pawar’s power in the Maharashtra region, influence NCP’s national-level strategies through his daughter, and attempts to reduce the influence of other members within the party led to a state of severe discontent. These have made NCP a public spectacle. The power struggle between the NCP supremo and his nephew Ajit Pawar is now a matter of public discourse.

The direct result of the power tussle is that the NCP has lost its majority and faces criticism from both within the party and outside. Currently, 40 MLAs stand in the Ajit Pawar camp. He was sworn in as a Deputy CM of Maharashtra for the 3rd time in 4 years. The NCP won 54 of the 288 seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections held in 2019. However, 40 of the 54 elected MLAs no longer serve under Sharad Pawar. Thus, the defection of Ajit Pawar and his followers to the BJP-Shiv Sena camp has weakened Sharad Pawar’s control over NCP. Moreover, it seems like NCP shall find itself in the same position as the Shiv Sena. Soon the party shall belong to Ajit Pawar; free from Sharad Pawar’s schemes and machinations.

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The Role of Amit Shah in Sharad Pawar’s Downfall

Amit Shah - The Modern Chanakya | More Than Just an Election Machine - YouTube
PC YouTube The Hindu Historian

The BJP has been silently but surely taking down its detractors. Shiv Sena that backstabbed Devendra Fadnavis’ BJP in the 2019 Assembly Elections has been safely defanged. The new Shiv Sena was handed over to its on-ground Karyakarta CM Eknath Shinde. Home Minister Amit Shah was believed to be the wind in the sails of Eknath Shinde’s power struggle. A similar story may be repeated with NCP. Although there is no proof of his direct role, this true Chanakya of Indian Rajneeti shall strike again to ensure that Sharad Pawar will never rise again in Maharashtra’s political scene.

In 2019 BJP’s successful takeover of the Maharashtra government, albeit for a short period, can be attributed to their strategic alliance with Ajit Pawar. Thus, the 2023 defection of Ajit Pawar is also a result of the BJP’s political maneuvering by HM Amit Shah. Supriya Sule is an empty vase in the Mahratra political scene. Her contributions to the party are negligible in comparison to Ajit Pawar. Her political standing is of the understudy of her father. She shall slowly be relegated to a footnote in the history of Maharashtra’s and NCP’s new era. 

The downfall of Sharad Pawar, the leader of the joint opposition in the 2024 general elections, is the herald of BJP’s general elections campaign. The ‘forgive not and forget not’ strategy of HM Amit Shah shall leave no stone unturned in the run-up to the 2024 general elections. The BJP is ready to destroy its detractors and opponents using all forms of Chanakya Neeti. Beware those who were fair-weather friends of the BJP; let NCP’s situation be your lesson.

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