Sharad Pawar and his power of three | Opinion
Pawar is clearly rebuilding his party and has wooed back his core voter base - the farmers - in just three yearsmumbai Updated: Oct 03, 2017 19:08 IST
A week is a long time in politics, they say, but over the years I have discovered that three is a wondrous number too - in years, not weeks.
When the Shiv Sena-BJP government first came to power in 1995, I remember then Finance Minister Ramrao Adik had gone down on his knees to then chief minister Sharad Pawar not to allow them to form the government. They were in minority and needed the help of 45 Congress rebels to make up the numbers and Pawar could easily have stopped them from supporting the alliance. But he deliberately did not.
“Give me three years. Just three years,” he told Adik who had been a former Shiv Sainik and knew well the incapabilities of his former party men. But clearly Pawar seemed to know them better. “If they do not mess up in three years, I will quit politics forever.” Pawar’s reasoning was that it took just three years for good governance - or bad - to show up and that even the best of governments have to fight this three-year danger hard, so the Sena would never be able to do it.
As he predicted, it took them exactly three years to begin unravelling with Raj Thackeray’s alleged involvement in the Ramesh Kini scam and after that everything went downhill for the two parties. They could not return to power for 15 long years - that is three terms which is as long as it took to displace the Congress-NCP again. But three years is again as long as it took for scams in the Devendra Fadnavis government to come tumbling out and destroy its carefully built reputation for clean governance.
Harking back to the past, three years was again all it took to similarly destroy then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s squeaky clean image forever and despite the biggest majority of all times in the Lok Sabha under him, the Congress has since been struggling to regain a firm foothold in electoral politics. However, now, three years is again all it has taken for things to begin unravelling for the current dispensation in New Delhi as it took three years for Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to find his feet - and voice - again after the massive defeat of 2014.
With the pressures resulting from demonetisation and GST, the BJP is suddenly under pressure in Gujarat (going to polls in November), which is a heavily trader and small and medium entrepreneur based economy. These groups could once upon a time be depended upon to vote for the BJP, but now the jitteriness of the party is apparent in the fact that they seem to have abandoned the plank of development and gone for Gujarati pride - the Congress has always been disrespectful of Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, Morarji Desai and Narendra Modi (three again!), party president Amit Shah has said.
But the fact is that it is the Shiv Sena which abhors the Gujaratis more - and its distrust of the BJP now comes more from its past experience with Morarji Desai who had ordered a firing on protesters of the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement in the 1950s at Flora Fountain that had martyred 106 Maharashtrians, a fact no Maharashtrian can forget. Which is why both Uddhav and Raj Thackeray and Sanjay Raut in recent days are openly targetting both the Union government and the BJP, largely seen as a Gujarati-dominated party today, with a pugnacity that the BJP is finding difficult to combat.
But the power of three finds its effect more with Sharad Pawar, who first propounded the theory of three, than with anybody else. Three years after he suggested the idea of farmers-producers setting up their own companies to gain maximum returns from their crops, these farmers from Nashik who came together to export their grapes to European countries have succeeded like never before and reinvited Pawar to their farms this week to ask him how they can maximise their returns.
His advice is significant and of great import to future governments - don’t depend on any government for anything, Pawar told them. Unite and rise on your own and you will never have to suffer.
Pawar is clearly rebuilding his party and has wooed back his core voter base - the farmers - in just three years. If the state and Union governments do not pay heed, it will not even take three years until the next election for them to be hit by the power of three.