Updated on May 10, 2021 23:48:45

 

At 80, Maratha warrior Sharad Pawar going strong

Web Admin

Web Admin

5 Dariya News

Mumbai , 11 Dec 2020

It was a cool early morning on September 30, 1993, when the Latur earthquake rudely jolted a sleeping Maharashtra at 3.56 a.m.The same evening, this correspondent (then with Indian Express, Mumbai) was bundled by his Chief Reporter D. K. Raikar, onto an East West Airlines cargo flight to Solapur, making him among the earliest 'outsider' to reach the ravaged region.Late that night he learnt that in the next circuit house bungalow, none other than the then Chief Minister Sharad Pawar had arrived, and later deploying some goodwill, this reporter managed to get his vehicle tagged in the CM's motorcade at dawn the next day.It was an educational, zooming, whirlwind tour with Pawar, as he moved from village to village, met the quake-hit populace, wiped tears of people or lent his comforting shoulder, softly snapped instructions to the volley of officialdom accompanying him.Sporting a set of white shirt and trousers, gumboots and shades, he often went into the rubble, muck, blood and water, accidentally stepping on to dead bodies and when the motorcade returned at dusk, Pawar's attire clearly told the gory tale of his day out in the tragic fields.Late in the night, after he returned and refreshed, he agreed to an interview request - at around 1.00 am - when he partook a simple meal. He answered this correspondent's questions for over two hours, punctuated by calls on his hotline, from the Prince of Wales, Nepal Army Chief and other global bigwigs offering help.

Today, on the eve of his 80th birthday (December 12) Pawar's enthusiasm for the people of Maharashtra has not waned and he continues to serve the state with the same zeal this correspondent witnessed first-hand during a major natural calamity.Since then, a lot of water has flown down the Godavari river, Pawar's turf had gone national in the Congress, he even broke off from the party to form his own Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 1999, making more friends and admirers.Silencing critics, he and the NCP bounced back into the limelight the same year both in the state and Centre - perhaps the quickest progress to power any new political outfit ever achieved.Given the current scenario, Indian Politics remains incomplete minus-Pawar, who's probably the best PM India has yet to elect!With over 55 years of political experience under his belt, he has not lost a single Assembly or Lok Sabha election since 1967, became CM thrice, plus union minister thrice, served as Leader of Opposition in the state and Centre, parliamentary party leader, and other top positions.Like many great leaders of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi or Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Pawar enjoys a warm personal rapport with all the top political leaders, cutting across party lines - including Prime Minister Narendra Modi who once described him as his 'political guru' - and many take his sagely advice on tough political issues.Continuing in the same vein as Latur 27 years ago, the 79-year-old Maratha fighter had the nation spellbound as he addressed a rally in pouring rain at a Lok Sabha bypoll in Satara in October 2019 - which he recently attributed to the teachings of his late mother Shardabai.

In November 2019, Pawar achieved another Mission Impossible - snatching power from under the noses of the Bharatiya Janata Party's top bosses like Modi, BJP President & Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and of course, the fuming outgoing CM Devendra Fadnavis.Pawar not only cobbled up a viable Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi government but -- apparently fulfilling his old promise to the Sena founder and his friend, the late Balasaheb Thackeray -- anointed his son Uddhav Thackeray as the new CM, much to chagrin of BJP & Co.As the pater-familias of the Pawar clan and the MVA, Pawar quietly guides fire-fighting operations on both fronts, and now speculation is rife that he may be offered a prominent role in the United Progressive Alliance, currently headed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, though the NCP has denied it.But nobody can tell - as in his political career, the unpredictable Pawar has earned many sobriquets like 'Chanakya', 'Bheeshma Pitamah', 'Wily Fox', 'Machiavelli', etc.During the pandemic lockdown in April, his daughter Supriya Sule, MP, warmed the hearts of people when she shared a video of her Dad gently grooving to Ramayan bhajans, but barely four months later he took a jibe at the PM for the urgency to construct the Ram Temple in Ayodhya - but his (Pawar's) own credibility remained intact.He took time off to shoot letters to the PM on a few occasions, and similar to the ex-PM Manmohan Singh wise sermons on economics, when Pawar speaks on a political issue, the whole country is all ears... for he can detect in a whiff which way the wind is blowing.The veteran of many vicious political battles, Pawar remains the prime target of the BJP's Youngistan, many barely half his age, but he shrugs them off with a mischievous grin - didn't he prove barely a year ago that he remains the kill-all GrandMaster of the political chessboard?Given the manner in which Indian polity veers towards becoming dark and unipolar, it is largely Pawar who is credited with maintaining a balance - the result of his rich ground-level experience vis-a-vis the Twitter-Facebook approach of modern-day politicians who remain cut-off from the ground realities.In a November 14 letter to his late mother, Shardabai, Pawar recalled her inspiring memories, how he felt a surge of new youthful energy to perform satisfactorily in his public life... making him the 'unstoppable' engine of politics, with still a long haul ahead.

 

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