Apart from being a veteran politician, Pawar has also occupied key positions in the national and international cricket boards
Maharashtra is going to elect its fresh Assembly on October 21 and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and patriarch Sharad Pawar is making all possible efforts to gain power in the state in alliance with the Congress.
The 'Maratha Strongman', as he is often called, Pawar has been active in electoral politics for more than 52 years. In what has been an eventful career, Padma Vibhushan awardee Pawar has seen his rise from being a grassroots leader to holding prominent state and national designations. In his political stint, the NCP chief has seen many highs and lows, including many controversies. However, this did not affect his political reverence, as he has never tasted defeat in polls. After his first election to the Maharashtra Assembly in 1967, Pawar has never lost any electoral contest, a feat that has eluded many of his contemporaries.
Apart from being a veteran politician, Pawar has also occupied key positions in the national and international cricket boards, including that of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and International Cricket Council (ICC) president, besides other sports associations.
Beginning of Political life
Sharad Pawar was no novice to politics, he had it in his blood. His mother, whom he referred to as 'Bai', was a part of the Leftist movement in Maharashtra after Independence. She was a part of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), which wielded considerable influence in the state then. Pawar, however, was not impressed by the Left, for, in his own words, "democratic values attracted me more".
It was with these democratic values that Pawar joined the Congress in its youth wing. From thereon, he rose in ranks to reach dizzying heights.
Pawar plunged into politics as a grassroots worker in home turf Baramati in western Maharashtra in 1960s, and grew up under the tutelage of the late Yashwantrao Chavan.
In 1967, Pawar entered electoral politics by contesting in the Legislative Assembly polls. After scoring his maiden victory, the young Pawar was inducted as a junior minister. Later, he was elevated to the Cabinet rank and, over the years, held several key portfolios in the state. In 1978, he became the youngest chief minister of Maharashtra at the age of 38, a post at which he had three more stints.
The lifelong, yet unfulfilled, ambition of Pawar to occupy the country's topmost post — that of Prime Minister – is well known by politics enthusiasts. It is said he was eyeing the position after the elections that followed the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991. However, his ambitions were thwarted as Congress chose PV Narasimha Rao for the post.
In his career, Pawar has held the agriculture and defence ministry at the Centre.
Formation of NCP
Pawar, who floated a separate outfit after breaking away from Congress in the late 1970s, returned to the parent party in 1986. In 1999, Pawar again parted ways with Congress after opposing the decision of Congress leaders to promote Sonia Gandhi (widow of Rajiv Gandhi) as party chief and insisting that anyone who could potentially become prime minister of India must be born in the country. He left the party with Purno Sangma and Tariq Anwar and formed NCP later in the year.
Since then, the party is running with Pawar as its chief. He did not return to Congress, but his party struck an alliance with Congress and ruled Maharashtra for 15 years till the BJP-led government came to power in 2014.
Mumbai bomb blasts
During Pawar's last stint as Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mumbai was rocked by 12 bomb blasts in different parts in March 1993. After the explosions, Pawar announced that the blasts had occurred in 13 places and had added the name of a Muslim-dominated locality -- Musjid Bunde. Later, he admitted that he had "deliberately misled" people to show that people from both communities had been affected.
One of India’s toughest and most deeply-entrenched politicians, Pawar has been named in a money-laundering case by the ED in connection with the alleged scam of Rs 25,000-crore in a Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. His name in the case – which has not been substantiated – recall a slew of controversies against Pawar.
The leader has reportedly been named in several corruption cases related to agricultural imports and exports, irrigation scheme, land acquisitions, disproportionate assets, among others.
Although Pawar has never been officially charged for any wrongdoing, it maligned his image and portrayed him as a corrupt leader. It was apparent from the incident, when a youth called him corrupt and slapped him in November 2011.Pawar managed to tackle all the allegations and moved forward. Currently, he is seeking revival of his party in Maharashtra and gaining power in alliance with Congress. The result of his efforts will be known on October 24, the Counting Day in Maharashtra.