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Isolated & Pawar-less

Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar finds himself isolated on the IPL issue within the ruling UPA with no ally coming forward to defend him, reports Nagendar Sharma.

delhi Updated: Jun 06, 2010 23:28 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar finds himself isolated on the IPL issue within the ruling UPA with no ally coming forward to defend him.

The Congress continued to be non-committal and on Sunday, hinted it would reach a conclusion only after the completion of a probe into all IPL matters, announced by Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament on April 19.

“You will have to ask the NCP about the nitty-gritty details. A general inquiry into the matter is already on,” said spokesperson, Abhishek Singhvi.

This is for the first time since Pawar broke away from the Congress in 1999 that he is vulnerable to attacks from opposition parties and may need the support of allies to bail him out from one of the most difficult situations in his four-decade old political career.

Pawar is known to have close relations with National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee, but both have so far been silent.

There does not appear to be any immediate danger to Pawar’s ministerial position yet, given the Congress’s dependence on his party both at the Centre and in Maharashtra, but the veteran leader seems to have seriously embarrassed the ruling alliance.

At the core of the controversy are inconsistent statements by Pawar and his daughter, MP Supriya Sule.

They have changed their statements regularly with every fresh revelation since the IPL controversy first broke in April.

The initial defence was of complete denial from any involvement, to the latest statement of at least being aware what the company in which the family held shares was doing.

The latest turn of events is bound to reduce Pawar’s bargaining capacity within the UPA, an art which he seems to have mastered over the years. The NCP and Congress have enjoyed an uneasy relationship, which began from Maharashtra, a decade ago.

Congress sources have hinted that they do not stand to lose anything over the IPL issue and the public embarrassment for an ally like Pawar would only help in taming him.

Indications of Congress playing tough are already coming from Maharashtra where CM Ashok Chavan overruled Home Minister R.R. Patil (NCP) on the appointment of D. Sivanandan as the state police chief.

Also, for the June 17 Rajya Sabha elections, the Congress again has named Avinash Pandey, a candidate whom the NCP had refused to back in 2008.