STUNG by Congress’ taunt that Sharad Pawar’s NCP never takes the front seat, the Maharashtra politician appointed Vandana Chavan as the joint opposition candidate for the post of Rajya Sabha’s Deputy Chairman. Prickled by his boss’ decision, Praful Patel opposed it vehemently. In Parliament, he told friends and whoever else was willing to listen, that this was a bad move for various reasons. One, the opposition candidate, even if a joint one, was likely to lose. Two, NCP was a puny party, and the largest of the opposition parties should have taken the initiative to appoint a consensus candidate. Three, Pawar’s decision may actually break the bonhomie among the various opposition parties. But it wasn’t such a simple-and-shut scenario. Over the years, the NCP has played a blow-hot, blow-cold game with both the Congress and BJP. Its senior leaders, including Pawar and Patel, have adopted varying political strategies. This was openly evident during the Rajya Sabha election of Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s Political Advisor, from Gujarat. The NCP played a chaotic and confused game – it initially said it would support Ahmed, and later did a U-Turn and maintained that it would go with the BJP. Finally, Ahmed scraped through, but only because the Election Commission disqualified two Congress MLAs’ votes for showing their ballots to others. After the election, the Congress disqualified several MLAs as they defied the party’s whip to vote for Ahmed Patel. The curious case of NCP, Congress and BJP, as well as Pawar and two Patels is like to take more mysterious turns in the near future.
Vol. 12, Issue 5, August 2018