NCP Demolished, Corruption Edified Brazenly

4 Min
<strong>NCP Demolished, Corruption Edified Brazenly</strong>

Atul Cowshish

Sharad Pawar’s NCP is nearly wiped out in Maharashtra without fighting the battle of the ballot as his ‘scared’ legislators flock to join the BJP-led government in the state. Led by his nephew Ajit Pawar, ‘rebel’ NCP members have shaken hands with the BJP to first get rid of the fear of arrest and prosecution and as a bonus become part of the Eknath Shinde-led ruling dispensation.

The junior Pawar has become deputy chief minister for a third time and looks like replacing Eknath Shinde, formerly with Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, to achieve his life-long ambition of becoming the chief minister– with the support of the BJP.

Political developments in Mumbai shook the country leading to all kinds of speculation about intrigues, back-stabbing and options before the 84-year-old Sharad Pawar. He has already decided to go to the people and win their support and sympathy for having been betrayed by his nephew and a wily party. Whatever happens, it is still too early to say that Sharad Pawar, who himself has ditched leaders to fulfill his ambitions will become totally irrelevant politically.  

Till the other day, Sharad Pawar strode like a colossus on the political scene even when many believed that he was essentially a leader of three or four districts of western Maharashtra. An immediate corollary to this is that Ajit Pawar who has outwitted his uncle is no big leader of the state that returns the second largest number (48) of seats to the Lok Sabha.

Since so much of the political debate is focused on the veteran Pawar, it is natural that attention also veers round to his daughter and political heir, Supriya Sule. But she need not show her mettle as long as her father is around. Sharad Pawar’s ability to rebuild NCP from the ruins will depend a lot on the response he receives from the people.

As a ‘victim’ of the BJP’s bulldozing and politics of intimidation, senior Pawar might be able to strike the right chord with the people, especially in the areas of his influence. He will have the example of Siv Sena, which was also mauled badly by the BJP. Despite losing the party symbol, Uddhav Thackeray and his son are reported to have received considerable support from the supporters of Shiv Sena who have denounced the ‘betrayal’ by Shinde and company.       

There is as yet little talk amidst all the political turmoil about the most brazen act of double-speak that many ordinary people might have noticed. Just a few days before bulldozing the NCP, Narendra Modi had roared in dramatic tones in Bhopal that he would wipe out corruption in the country. According to him, the sum total of corruption of all the parties (naturally, opposition parties) was over Rs 30 lakh crore of which the NCP’s share was nearly one lakh crore.

The Enforcement Directorate has in its net almost every one of the nine NCP members who had marched to Mumbai Raj Bhavan with Ajit Pawar on July 2 for taking oath as ministers. The charges of financial irregularities against them run into lakhs and crores of rupees. By BJP standards, these NCP members could not be called very clean—till they changed sides.

But lo and behold! The moment they pledge friendship with the BJP they become squeaky clean. The one lakh crore allegation against NCP members that Modi had levelled in Bollywood-style vanished into thin air in one fell swoop.

One cannot say who Sharad Pawar had in mind when he said that he welcomed BJP embarking upon a ‘cleaning’ exercise. Did he mean that the rump NCP is now certified clean because the allegedly corrupt in his party have left to be washed ‘clean’ in the extraordinary BJP ‘washing machine’?

Actually, it should have been for the BJP to explain how all talk of corruption against the ones it calls ‘most corrupt’ disappears from its narrative the moment they join the saffron party or extend support to it in forming government. After describing the ruling party in Meghalaya as the ‘most corrupt in the country’ the BJP lost no time in supporting it and become part of the government. Another state in the North-east was accused of embezzling funds sent by the centre but now BJP is part of the government there.  

The prime minister in one of his many catchy speeches had denounced the opposition parties for being ‘hypocritical’ to the extreme. But shouldn’t Modi be confronted with the same allegation?

The future of NCP and how the new developments will impact opposition parties struggling to offer a combined challenge to the BJP in 2024 will continue to be hotly debated till the next general election. But it will be a tragedy if the approach to dealing with corruption among political parties remains as one-sided as it is today.

The Modi juggernaut seems to have given way to Modi bulldozer which aims at opposition parties in power in the states, uprooting them and demoralizing their ranks. If rumours are to be believed, huge amount of money is exchanged in toppling ‘opposition governments’. It is no secret which is the party with almost unlimited funds at its disposal.

Mumbai type political bulldozing may be more frequently witnessed in the coming months as the 2024 Lok Sabha polls draw nearer. The ruling party cannot even think of losing the polls. The unfair and immoral means for breaking parties do not seem to shake the conscience of the majority. The only thing that matters is winning the electoral battles—by whatever means.  

*The writer is a veteran political commentator