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Why Pawar wants less

NCP chief Sharad Pawar is not known to act on an impulse. Neither has he turned his back to the challenge of rising food prices or to a hectic schedule following his elevation as president of International Cricket Council.

delhi Updated: Jul 06, 2010 23:06 IST
Saroj Nagi

NCP chief Sharad Pawar is not known to act on an impulse. Neither has he turned his back to the challenge of rising food prices or to a hectic schedule following his elevation as president of International Cricket Council. So, when the minister for agriculture, consumer affairs, food and public distribution requested PM Manmohan Singh on Monday to reduce his burden, there was speculation that he was playing a bigger game.

While there is talk that Pawar is trying to put the food price issue into the Congress court, the NCP camp maintains that their leader intends to devote more time to travelling and rebuilding the party’s links with the people, especially the youth. The unstated reasons could include creating a safe political future for his daughter and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule, and preparing himself for a larger role during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls if there is a fractured Parliament again.

As time is not quite on the 70- year-old leader’s side, he has to fast-track his agenda amid calls from sections for the NCP’s merger with the Congress. The two parties have been in coalition at the Centre and in Maharashtra where they are battling each other for primacy.

For a man who has been in government for 25 out of the 44 years, Pawar has friends across the political spectrum and is expected to use his rapport to rebuild and strengthen his links with other parties to provide an umbrella to disparate groups seeking a role in a coalition era.

The political scenario is showing signs of a flux. In West Bengal and Kerala, the Left, for instance, is likely to suffer defeat. In AP, Jagan Mohan Reddy is challenging the High Command. Smaller outfits like K. Chandrashekhara Rao’s TRS in AP, H D Deve Gowda’s JD-S in Karnataka or Ajit Singh’s RLD are looking for support from other parties. BJD’s Naveen Patnaik is equidistant from the BJP and the Congress and there is speculation whether JD-U leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar would follow suit. The list is long. Is Pawar eyeing this scenario? Time will tell.