‘Only one tiger in Maharashtra’: NCP workers cheer party boss Sharad Pawar
Sharad Pawar, the Maratha strongman and Nationalist Congress Party boss, was cheered on by party members as he arrived at the Trident hotel in Mumbai this evening for the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress joint meeting after Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar resigned as chief minister and deputy CM respectively earlier in the day giving a fillip to the anti-BJP front.
“Maharashtra cha ekch wagh, Sharad Pawar Sharad Pawar (There is only one tiger in Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar Sharad Pawar),” chanted party workers as Pawar arrived at the venue of the joint meeting of the three new coalition partners.
Within three days of the dramatic volte-face by his nephew Ajit Pawar, who led away a faction of the NCP to support the BJP to form a government in the western state, the NCP veteran not only managed to keep his flock together but succeeded in forcing his nephew to resign, causing the fall of the four-day old Fadnavis government.
Throwing a challenge to the BJP, Sharad Pawar said: “There will not be any problem in proving our majority…On the day of the floor test, I will bring more than 162 MLAs. This is not Goa, this is Maharashtra.”
Sharad Pawar was the first to announce on Friday that Uddhav Thackeray will be the new CM of Maharashtra, but on Saturday his nephew rebelled to join hands with the BJP, a shock from which he recovered quickly and used all his resources to quell the rebellion, party leader Nawab Malik said.
During the elections also, many leaders left the NCP, including close aide Ganesh Naik, but the 79-year old Maratha leader campaigned vigorously.
During the Assembly polls in October, Pawar once stood drenched on the podium to address party workers in heavy rain in Satara. He refused to take an umbrella saying he cannot do it as his party workers are also braving the rain. The 40-minute speech in Satara led to the defeat of the descendant of Shivaji Mahraj, Udyan Raje Bhonsle, who had switched from the NCP to the BJP just ahead of elections.
When Pawar’s name came up in the ED investigation in a money laundering case, he made it an election agenda and turned the tide against the BJP, saying “a Maratha never bows to Delhi.”
He decided to visit the ED office without even a notice. He said even Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler, never bowed to the rulers of Delhi.