'There are no permanent friends and foes in politics'. Come elections and this saying is proved right by politicians in plenty. Sharad Pawar is one of them this time around.
Once a bitter opponent of Sonia Gandhi for her foreign origin, the issue which led him to part ways with Congress, Pawar has buried the hatchet out of political compulsions in Maharashtra. But the Maratha strongman has not yet endorsed Sonia as next Prime Minister.
Having bneen Maharashtra chief minister thrice, Pawar has held key portfolios like Defence in Congress governments at the Centre in his long and still thriving political innings.
His ambition to make it big at national level was the reason he quit the Congress on the eve of the last elections.
His NCP is contesting 18 seats in Maharashtra while COngress is fighting 26. Besides Maharashtra, where he wields personal influence, Pawar hopes to win some seats in Bihar and other states too to play a bigger role in post-poll scenario.
Having friends in both BJP and Congress, Pawar hobnobbed with both Congress as well as BJP. But after Shiv Sena veto on his dealings with BJP, he finally allied with Sonia. This was prompted by a realisation that in the 1999 elections, when NCP and Congress fougtht separately, he could win only six seats.
What goes for Pawar is his immense ability to raise resources but what goes against him is his personal inability to project himself as a national leader. NCP has failed to grow outside Maharashtra. Leaders like VC shukla in Chhattisgarh and PA Sangma in Assam have already left NCP to jump on to the saffron bandwagon.
But he is known as a tough fighter with a true Maratha spirit. A lot is at stake for him this time. It may will prove to be decisive phase of his political future and fortunes. Only time has the answer.