Voters say they are looking for an opposition that isn’t there, except Maratha lion Sharad Pawar feeds ageists humble pie
Topping up months of intense campaigning where his tirelessness put youngsters to shame even as it perplexed everyone who had written him off as a spent force against the Modi-Shah juggernaut, Sharad Pawar addressed his Satara speech before the Maharashtra assembly election in pouring rain. Now appearing to perfectly encapsulate the resurgence NCP has pulled off on the back of Pawar’s spirited crusade, that image has gone viral.
Far from being decimated NCP under an indomitable Pawar has actually increased its tally significantly. This is after he was hit by a series of defections, a money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate, and allegations of party links with the D-company. Today he is in a position to say, voters did not like the defectors and BJP linking him to anti-nationalism did not work. The big question is, what could have been if NCP alliance partner Congress had shown similar fighting spirit. The GOP is now reduced to a junior partner in the state in which it was born.
Looking across to Haryana, it is even more clear that BJP dominance is far from becoming hegemonic, as significant numbers of voters continue to show dissatisfaction with life under the current dispensation. What was dismissed as a no-contest election actually turned out to be at the knife’s edge. Once again the central question is, what could have been if Congress had gotten its act together better, or ahead of time. Of course, it has done spectacularly compared to the forecasts of most exit polls. But only a win is a win. And that’s what it hasn’t got.
A true hunger to win would mean Congress wouldn’t nonchalantly postpone difficult decisions, it would build many more alliances, set up clear power centers in states, whatever their dynasty or age. Between Bhoopinder Singh Hooda and Sharad Pawar, it’s clear that the oldest warhorses can yet be the most red-blooded.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.