From supporting the BJP government to saying his party has not taken the responsibility to keep the government afloat for five years — eyebrows were raised in political circles over the way NCP chief Sharad Pawar changed his stand in a matter of days.
Political observers said differences between the party leaders, the possibility of defection by Pawar’s MLAs and the BJP’s cold attitude towards the NCP could be possible reasons for the change.
Pawar’s party was in such a hurry to offer support to the BJP that it did not wait to see how many seats it was winning. Hours before the final results were declared on October 19, the party’s senior leader Praful Patel announced unconditional outside support to the BJP. The announcement not only resulted in outrage against the NCP, it also sidelined the Shiv Sena.
By extending its unconditional support, the NCP was reportedly buying political immunity for the corruption cases pending against its party leaders during negotiations. The party had prepared itself to vote in favour of the BJP during the trust vote last week. But the BJP managed to prove its majority without the NCP’s support.
Though the party leaders have been rubbishing talks of political negotiations, Pawar reiterated on Tuesday that if the BJP government did not focus on the controversial issues, his party will continue giving support.
“If the government continued working in the interest of the public and avoids touching upon controversial issues, we will continue to support the government,” he said. Observers claimed Pawar was referring to the corruption cases.
“The BJP’s game plan at the time of the trust vote upset NCP leaders because the party appeared to be dragging itself behind the ruling party. The party has been facing a backlash on social media ever since the announcement of the support. A section of leaders feel the decision has maligned its image,” said a party leader.
Political analyst Prakash Bal said, “The main reason behind the change in the NCP’s stance is because of the difference of opinion within the party. His nephew Ajit Pawar had openly criticised the way BJP won the trust vote. He even said the support was not assured for the full term.”
Pawar’s statement is being seen as a cautious political move to build pressure on the BJP to clear its stand on the NCP. By hinting at mid-term polls, Pawar also sent a message to party leaders looking to join the ruling party.
“By claiming the party still has the capacity to win 148 seats on its own, he tried to boost the NCP’s morale,” a party insider said, on condition of anonymity.