Sharad Pawar

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Relations with the Congress

The Times of India, Dec 13 2015

Rajeev Deshpande

Rajiv wanted to oust me from Maha CM's chair

NCP chief Sharad Pawar says Rajiv Gandhi had initiated a coup against his chief ministership but the plan came a cropper when the legislature party overwhelmingly voted in his favour in 1990. Some Maharashtra Congress bigwigs raised a banner of revolt against his leadership. He says he was sure that while they were acting at the behest of the high command, they had little support on the ground. It triggered a battle of wits between the leadership and the CM and ended in embarrassment for Rajiv Gandhi. He has made these claims in his just released book “On My Terms“.

Interestingly , while he has expressed desire to join hands with Congress again in 2019, Pawar also says that the Gandhis “consider Congress as their family fiefdom“, adding that Sonia Gandhi would not have brooked an independentminded PM, a reason he lost out to Naransimha Rao in 1991.

Ghulam Nabi Azad and G K Moopanar came to Mumbai as central observers for the meeting of the legislature party and the legislators had been told in advance that the “higher ups“ desired a change in leadership.

The observers did not want a vote in the legislature party and preferred individual meetings to gauge the mood ­ what Pawar says “was the usual ploy employed by the high command to muffle the majority view which was inconvenient to them“. But many MLAs and MLCs turn ed hostile to the idea.

Pawar was soon called to Delhi for a meeting with Ra jiv Gandhi who made a query of courtesy “what's happen ing“. Pawar says he replied “You know better than me Everyone in Mumbai acted quite efficiently as per your instructions. However, they unfortunately could not mus ter support.“

Pawar says, Rajiv Gandhi obliquely accepted his role in the aborted coup. “No, no Something went wrong there I had just asked them to shake the tree, not uproot it,“ he re plied. He says he later pressed for the removal of rebels from the state cabinet but Ra jiv Gandhi did not agree.

Issues leading to exit/ 1999

Bypassed, Pawar raked up Sonia's Italian roots: Pranab Mukherjee in book, October 16, 2017: The Times of India


Targeted her over ‘Italian origin’: Pranab in book

'In 1999 Pawar expected the party to request him, instead of Sonia Gandhi, to stake claim to form the government'

Former President Pranab Mukherjee has said that unfulfilled political ambitions of heading the Congress party may have prompted Maratha satrap Sharad Pawar to revolt against Sonia Gandhi and launch his own outfit NCP.

In his book 'Coalition Years', Mukherjee touched upon the attack orchestrated by Pawar over Sonia's "Italian origin" in a meeting of the Congress working committee in 1999.

According to Mukherjee, Pawar was perhaps slighted by the fact that Congress had asked Sonia to stake claim to form the government after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime fell in a confidence vote. Also, Pawar had been downgraded as an advisor after Sonia took the party reins.

"In my opinion, Pawar, as the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, expected the party to request him, instead of Sonia Gandhi, to stake claim to form the government. After Sonia's elevation as the Congress president, she consulted P Shiv Shankar on all important issues rather than Pawar. This sense of alienation and disenchantment may have been responsible for his statements on Sonia's foreign origin, and his subsequent exit from the party in 1999," Mukherjee wrote.

Pawar, along with PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar, created a sensation at the famous CWC meeting, later quitting Congress to form NCP. The candid opinion, interestingly, came alongside Mukherjee's positive appraisal of the NCP chief as a politician and minister.

An interesting anecdote pertains to Mukherjee's trip to Mumbai while campaigning for the post of the President.

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had announced support for Mukherjee despite being part of the rival coalition NDA led by the BJP.

In the book, Mukherjee said Sonia was against his meeting Thackeray but Pawar advised him otherwise and insisted that he visit the Sena chief's residence. "Pawar added that Thackeray would consider it a personal insult if I did not meet him during my visit to Mumbai," recalled the former President.

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