Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawars uncharitable remarks on drought and loadshedding in the state have not just dented his personal image and left the Nationalist Congress Party with loss of face. They may have greatly harmed his prospects for the one post he has never hidden he craves: chief ministership in 2014.
The question being asked is what step NCP president Sharad Pawar will take to tame his nephew? Though Ajit continues to hold the remote control of the state unit in his hand,with 45 of the 62 elected MLAs owing loyalty to him,by his loose talk he may have given Sharad Pawar an opportunity to hold up own daughter Supriya Sule and her brand of womens welfare politics against the Young Turks abrasive style.
Ajits supporters too admit in private that with he may have gone too far. While the use of vulgar words cleverly woven with humour in public rallies is not a new phenomenon in Maharashtra there are a dime a dozen instances of leaders like Bal Thackeray targeting politicians with double-meaning phrases Ajit committed two cardinal wrongs. First,the one at the butt of his joke was an ordinary farmer,Prabhakar Deshmukh,who had been fasting for days for water,and second that of all the politicians in Maharashtra,Sharad Pawar remains the one known never to step out of line in his public addresses.
That is why,in the week following his remark asking whether he should urinate into a dam to get Deshmukh water,there have been no voices of support for Ajit. As his party waits to see how the cookie crumbles,the Opposition too appears to have identified Ajit as the weak link and is readying to exploit his remarks to the hilt.
No surprises then that Ajit himself has called it the biggest mistake of his political career. The question is: Could it also prove the costliest?
Shubhangi is a senior editor based in Mumbai