Nephew Ajit Pawar’s “rebellion” might have reminded NCP chief Sharad Pawar of his own “masterstroke” of 1978, which ushered him into the chair of Maharashtra’s chief minister at the young age of 38.
Pawar Senior had at the time revolted against the Congress government led by Vasantdada Patil, bringing it down months after it had been formed. Incidentally, he had joined hands with the Janata Party, that included the BJP’s precursor, Jan Sangh, that was at the time in power at the Centre after the Emergency. With the Janata Party, Pawar had formed the Progressive Democratic Front, also including the Socialist Party and Peasant and Workers Party.
There is another parallel. Pawar’s anger flowed from the Congress nominating Patil for a full five-year term as chief minister. The fact that it was Patil who had mentored Pawar hadn’t stopped the latter. A minister in the Patil government at the time, Pawar made no bones about his ambition.
However, the rainbow coalition that Pawar formed to come to power had lasted only one-and-a-half years. When Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980, Sanjay Gandhi reportedly urged Pawar to return to the Congress. Says senior Congress leader Ulhas Pawar, “Pawar had actually made up his mind to do so, but leaders like Chandra Shekhar, prevailed upon him and Pawar didn’t accept the Congress offer. Indira Gandhi then dismissed his government.”
Pawar went on to then form the Congress (S).