Personifying his image as a Maratha warrior, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar made a grand entry at the Trident hotel on Tuesday evening with the MLAs chanting "Maharashtra cha ekch wagh, Sharad Pawar, Sharad Pawar," which means Maharashtra has only one tiger, Sharad Pawar, Sharad Pawar. Over the last few days, Pawar has proved himself to be the true kingmaker despite jolted by his nephew Ajit Pawar.
After his nephew, Ajit Pawar switched sides in a dramatic fashion to support the BJP, Pawar held on to his flock of MLAs and negotiated with Shiv Sena and Congress simultaneously. This is a Sharad Pawar whom you have not seen for so many years. Be it the election rally in Maharashtra's Satara where he addressed a gathering despite a heavy downpour or his late-night meetings with NCP leaders and workers after Ajit Pawar jumped ship. If you recall Sharad Pawar's tweet after Fadnavis and Ajit's swearing-in at Raj Bhavan, Pawar chose his words carefully.
Despite initial reports that a majority of the party MLAs might change camp in the lure of ministerial posts offered by Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government, Pawar succeeded in making sure that he had the numbers on his side when it mattered. This was a vintage Sharad Pawar - the Maratha strongman.
In the weekend, when the NCP became the epicentre of the Maharashtra political thriller, Pawar stood firm with his views against forming an alliance with the BJP. The NCP looked like a house divided when he openly refuted the claims of his nephew over Twitter.
Ajit Pawar on Sunday tweeted, "I am in the NCP and shall always be in the NCP and @PawarSpeaks Saheb is our leader. Our BJP-NCP alliance shall provide a stable Government in Maharashtra for the next five years which will work sincerely for the welfare of the State and its people."
Wasting no time, Pawar went public discrediting his nephew's claims. In reply to Ajit's tweets, Pawar said, "There is no question of forming an alliance with @BJP4Maharashtra. NCP has unanimously decided to ally with @ShivSena & @INCMaharashtra to form the government. Shri Ajit Pawar’s statement is false and misleading in order to create confusion and false perception among the people," Sharad Pawar tweeted Sunday evening.
By Tuesday evening, Ajit Pawar and Devendra Fadnavis had to resign as Sharad Pawar steered a meeting of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, a group formed by the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP. You can call Sharad Pawar the architect of Maha Vikas Aghadi. As we write this report, Uddhav Thackeray is set to be the chief minister. Uddhav's swearing-in will take place at 5 pm on November 28. Moments after being elected as the leader, Uddhav touched Sharad Pawar's feet and sought his blessings. After all, Sharad Govindrao Pawar managed to pull off a victory from the jaws of defeat.