The Maratha strongman occupies a political sweet spot
Ajay Singh | June 7, 2010
There is a beautiful parable about an emperor who though naked believes that he is wrapped up in a divine cloth. The emperor would get angry and bump off anybody who pointed out his nakedness. But the story would have taken a different turn if the emperor started flaunting his nakedness as a divinity-ordained quality. This is exactly what Sharad Pawar has been doing in the IPL bidding case. There are enough indications to prove his company participated in the bidding. "But so what? He is not involved in it," proclaimed his Nationalist Congress Party’s spokesman D P Tripathi.
Of course, Pawar owns a mere 16 percent share in City Corporation that went for bidding. He also owns a minuscule share (priced at around Rs 6 crore) in Vijay Mallya’s company that owns Royal Challengers. Despite all these acts of indiscretion, Pawar feigns innocence. “Neither he nor his family members are involved in the IPL bidding,” is the line of the chorus orchestrated by his courtiers as Pawar turns defiant.
In fact, Pawar knows it too well that he is indispensable for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Given the kind of coalition that Manomohan Singh runs, Pawar’s indispensability lies in the fact that his party runs the government with the Congress in Maharashtra too. Though the Congress and Pawar share a love-hate relationship, the power equation is such that Pawar always has the upper hand.
Obviously, if push comes to shove, Pawar will find enough friends in the BJP and Shiv Sena who would be more than eager to help him form the government in Maharashtra without the Congress. Since the country’s most prosperous state provides economic sustenance to the Congress, it would certainly be wrong politics to corner Pawar beyond a point. Sooner than later, then, the Congress will have to come out in support of the Maratha strong man.
Though there is a strong case against Pawar, the opposition is making only feeble noises. In fact, the BJP and Shiv Sena see him as a potential ally who can join their bandwagon at an opportune moment. They still recall fondly how he had raised the issue of Sonia Gandhi's 'foreign origin' in the CWC meeting after the fall of the NDA government in 1999. Quite clearly, Pawar’s crass opportunism and unreliability are his biggest political assets in the present context. So far as his involvement in the IPL bidding goes, he is all set to brazen it out with his political colleagues cutting across the party lines. Unlike in the parable where the king gets angry if pointed out his nakedness, the modern king would gleefully flaunt to prove his political prowess much to the disgust of people on the streets.
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