With eye on 2014, Pawar wants say in policy issues | delhi | Hindustan Times
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With eye on 2014, Pawar wants say in policy issues

He is not known to rock the boat on "petty" grounds. So, when India's powerful farm minister Sharad Pawar reportedly offered to quit on Thursday, analysts say he had his own reasons.

delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2012 00:09 IST
Zia Haq

He is not known to rock the boat on "petty" grounds. So, when India's powerful farm minister Sharad Pawar reportedly offered to quit on Thursday, analysts say he had his own reasons.

Pawar is apparently peeved over "insinuations" that he was hankering for a so-called number 2 position in government, which gives him a symbolic seat next to the PM in Parliament.

However, it is certain that the heavyweight Maharashtra politician has followed this up with some major policy disagreements with the PM.

Pawar could well be preparing the ground for new allies for the 2014 general election, but some say he clearly wants a greater influence over policy, with interests ranging from cricket to commodities.

"The latter is more likely," says professor Pradeep Kumar Datta, the head of DU's political science department.

"He wants a symbolic elevation which he can translate into practical advantages."

While there could be "yet unknown" issues Pawar wants sorted, he has been disgruntled over the lack of a pro-reform, pro-market agricultural policy, his pet agenda.

"We had called a meeting of senior members of his party about two months ago to discuss some issues. We want the government to be more decisive," heavy industries minister Praful Patel, Pawar's colleague, said on Friday.

To be sure, as farm minister, Pawar has steered his ministry to glorious performances, having achieved India's highest ever food output this year.

Pawar continues to be wary of the financial implications of the food security bill.

He has criticised arbitrary export curbs on commodities, such as sugar, milk powder and cotton. He protested the commerce ministry's decision to ban cotton exports without consulting him.

Pawar has also taken to the PM his differences with food minister KV Thomas on food management issues.