Developments in States Heat Up National Politics

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Pawar, who is adept at reading the popular pulse, would try to take advantage of the situation by playing the victim card like Uddhav Thackeray who is hoping for a sympathy wave in his favour in the next election. There are those who think that Pawar’s last gambit would be to leave his political legacy for his daughter, SupriyaSule.

The run up to 2024 will be marked by political intrigue and high drama both in the ruling NDA and the opposition. The signs are becoming increasingly clear with some interesting yet significant developments taking place in different parts of the country. The most talked about among these has been the rebellion of senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders against party chief Sharad Pawar. The party has split vertically with Sharad’s nephew AjitPawar and his confidants Praful Patel and ChhaganBhujbal breaking ranks with him and joining the Shiv Sena (Shinde) and BJP alliance government in the state.

 

AjitPawar, who had been tugging at his leash for some time now, was sworn in as the deputy chief minister of the state. The political drama in the state continues to unfold with both Ajit and his uncle claiming the support of a majority of NCP MLAs. However, there is no denying that developments in Maharashtra have dealt a blow to the Shiv Sena (Uddhav), Congress and NCP Grand Alliance in the state, sending out a clear message to the electorate ahead of 2024 polls as it is bound to have repercussions for the anti-Modi opposition at the national level. Little surprise then that the opposition has blamed the rift in the NCP to the machinations of the BJP.

While the majority claims of the two major factions of the NCP are yet to be tested and would trigger other interesting political developments in the coming days the fact that Sharad Pawar loyalists like Praful Patel and ChhaganBhujbal have joined AjitPawar’s breakaway faction makes it evident that senior Pawar is no more the political force he once was in the state and in the politics of the country.

Few would have thought that Praful Patel would ever ditch Sharad Pawar. But then politics is always full of surprises. The most important factor behind the massive split in the NCP seems to be the fear of probe agencies like Enforcement Directorate among senior party leaders like AjitPawar, Praful Patel and Bhujbal. They are said to be under ED’s scrutiny. One would recall that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had described NCP as a “ghotala (scam)” party at a political rally in Madhya Pradesh.

Modi made a special mention of the irrigation scam to which AjitPawar is allegedly linked. The ED had reportedly also attached four floors of one of Praful Patel’s prime properties in South Mumbai a few months ago. The buzz in the political circles is that most senior NCP leaders have ditched their boss out of the fear of ED.

However, as the political situation in the state remains fluid, the endgame of Maharashtra politics is still awaited. People are waiting with baited breath for the wily Sharad Pawar to make the next move. There is also speculation that whatever is happening in the NCP is happening with the full knowledge of senior Pawar who has himself orchestrated this drama.

Another view is that Pawar, who is adept at reading the popular pulse, would try to take advantage of the situation by playing the victim card like Uddhav Thackeray who is hoping for a sympathy wave in his favour in the next election. There are those who think that Pawar’s last gambit would be to leave his political legacy for his daughter, SupriyaSule. It would be interesting to see how wily Sharad Pawar plays his cards now with reports that NCP has sought the disqualification of the rebel MLAs under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, and a fight for the party symbol could follow. All this is reminiscent of what happened within Shiv Sena when Eknath Shinde broke ranks to form an alliance government with BJP.

An equally significant development has taken place in Tamil Nadu where the relations between the incumbent DMK government and governor RN Ravi have worsened following the latter’s hurried decision to sack a minister who was in jail on corruption charges. Though the decision was put on hold subsequently it has triggered a debate about the powers of the governor and brought the government and the occupant of the Raj Bhavan face to face. Both these developments have heated up politics at the national level and more are likely to follow in the coming days.

 

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