Thursday, July 25, 2024

Sharad Pawar ‘acceding’ as NCP chief echoes Bal Thackeray’s resignation and return in 1992

“Will work for NCP with renewed vigour”, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar went back on his decision to resign from the party president post after NCP Committee resolution rejected his resignation. 

Pawar also mentioned that his daughter and MP Supriya Sule did not accept the position to preside over NCP.

However, the events that ensued a political melee since after Pawar announced his resignation in during Pawar’s autobiography Lok Maze Sangati launch event on Tuesday, echoes the developments of a 1992 incident of Maharashtra politics, which involved Pawar’s close friend Bal Thackeray.  

Sharad Govindrao Pawar has held NCP’s president position since the party’s formation on 10 June 1999, after he quit Indian National Congress to charter his own political path. 

But the event since Tuesday till Pawar took back his resignation, has uncanny similarities with events that took place with Bal Thackeray almost three decades ago. 

Let’s take a look

Just like Pawar’s timing of pulling off the resignation card just when speculation of his niece and an important cog in the NCP state machinery Ajit Pawar deflecting to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) arose, Bal Thackeray had pulled off a similar card when detractors from within and outside Shiv Sena launched attack on Thackeray’s style of functioning. 

Thackeray was being accused of turning Shiv Sena into his fiefdom by Chhagan Bhujbal and 17 other MLAs from rural Maharashtra along with other critics from outside the party. 

On 18 July, 1992, Thackeray wrote a signed article titled “Akhercha Jai Maharashtra (The final Jai Maharashtra)” in party mouthpiece Saamana. This article was his public declaration of resigning as Shiv Sena’s president. 

This surprise resignation triggered a valley of emotional Shiv Sainiks to swarm to the outside of Thackeray’s residence two days later on 20 June. They thronged his abode asking him to reconsider his decision to resign. 

Sounds similar to what NCP did on Friday with Sharad Pawar? 

Yes, we thought so!

At the gathering outside Matoshree in Bandra-east, senior Shiv Sena leaders were heckled for not being loyal to the party founder by Bal Thackeray’s loyalists. 

This event consolidated the Shiv Sena so tight that Bal Thackeray “magnanimously” acceded to the Sainiks’ requests and sealed his authority forever on Shiv Sena. 

NCP President Sharad Pawar, 82, considered one of the most pragmatic leaders India has, is also being seen as an important cog for the Opposition unity ahead og the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. Called upon by ML Stalin, Rahul Gandhi and the likes, Pawar decided to return as president of NCP and promised organisational re-structuring for better performance. 

By putting up a public show about his plans to not head the party he has sent the subtle message that he remains the most dominant force in the NCP.

Shiv Sena in 1995 had swept to power in coalition with BJP after these chain of events. What the future hold for NCP will only unfold eventually!

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