Sharad Pawar, the founder of the Nationalist Congress Party and the undisputed Maratha Strongman, celebrates his 80th birthday today. Pawar was born on December 12, 1940, at Baramati in Pune district. He is credited for the NCP's return to power in the state along with the Congress and their new ally Shiv Sena by forming the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
Pawar has a long history of dealing with controversies and is known to maintain cordial relationships across party lines. He is one of the most respected politicians in Maharashtra and has left a mark on national politics as well.
Today, as the great Pawar turn 80-years-old, here are the five times he was the talking point in the nation for giving it right back to Modi in classic Pawar style to the time he was shoved from the stage by cricketer Ricky Ponting.
When Pawar gave it back to Modi
Back in April, 2019, when all political parties were scrambling to lure voters to their side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had attacked NCP and its leader Pawar during his rally in Gondia and a public meeting at Wardha.
PM Modi had alleged that NCP leaders "were unable to sleep" as their "sleep was jailed in Delhi's Tihar" and in Wardha, he had said that Pawar has lost his grip over NCP due to a family feud.
Sharad Pawar isn’t someone to forget and forgive political attacks, he launched his own attack on PM Modi and said that at an election rally here in central Maharashtra, "We hail from the soil where Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was born. We don't mess with anyone on our own, but show the place if someone does so,"
He also accused the PM of taking credits for the army’s efforts after the Pulwama terror attack. He took a jab at Modi asking, "The present prime minister uses valour shown by security forces for his campaigning. This government has been unable to ensure even the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav. Where has the 56-inch chest gone?" asked Pawar.
When Pawar continued his speech in heavy rains
Before the Maharashtra Assembly elections earlier this year, Sharad Pawar had left no stone unturned to woo voters. During an election rally Satara, Pawar spoke even after it started raining heavily. He refused the umbrella he was offered saying, “Varun Raja (rain god in the Hindu mythology) has blessed the NCP. With his blessings, Satara district will now do magic in the upcoming polls.”
While the rally organizers were rethinking about the rally after the sudden shower, Pawar remained undeterred, stepped to the dais and launched a blistering attack on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government in the Centre and state.
When Pawar stepped up and apologised for Ajit’s insensitive remark on drought
In 2013, Pawar had shown his ability to maintain peace and solve issues without creating a controversy. When the then Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar had made an insensitive comment on drought, he stepped up and apologised on behalf of him.
Pawar’s nephew, Ajit had said, "If there is no water in the dam... Should we urinate into it?" at an event in Indapur near Pune.
Pawar, who was the then Union Agriculture Minister had later tweeted, "I duly apologise on the behalf of Deputy CM of Maharashtra for the unwarranted comment that he had made."
When Pawar made up the 13th blast to avoid communal violence
In March 1993, Mumbai had faced a devastating terror attack, a series fo 12 bomb blasts had occurred in different places in Mumbai in one day. All the bombs were placed in areas with a Hindu majority and in order to prevent communal violence, Pawar lied about a 13th bomb blast in the Muslim dominated area of Musjid Bunde.
Sharad Pawar was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra at that time and without caring about the consequences, he had rushed to the Doordarshan studio soon after the attacks and had announced that there were 13 blasts in total.
Pawar confessed to lying in 2006, he claimed that his lie could have saved lives because Hindus thought that Muslims were the victims too and hence communal violence was avoided. Testifying before the Srikrishna Commission, Pawar had even tried to pin the bomb blasts on LTTE. This lie also, he claimed, was told to avoid Hindu-Muslim clashes.
When Ricky ponting apologised to Pawar
In 2006, when Sharad Pawar was the head of BCCI, an over-enthusiastic Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting had shoved Pawar off the stage after receiving the trophy to celebrate with his team.
Pawar had downplayed the whole incident for the sake of the good relationship shared with the Australian board. He had called the actions of Ricky ponting uncivilised and said that he would welcome an apology.
Ponting had later called Pawar to apologize and the CA also wrote a letter.