New Delhi: A Congress leader, who has been witness to wily Sharad Pawar's politics of outfoxing veterans with smart moves, suspect his hand in sending nephew Ajit Pawar to the BJP camp to get President's rule revoked to facilitate formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Even BJP President Amit Shah, hailed as a modern day 'Chanakya', fell for the Ajit Pawar bait dangled by Sharad Pawar to demonstrate that he is better at the game of political one-upmanship, even at the ripe age of 78.
Pawar had reportedly confided about plan only to Ahmed Patel, a Sonia Gandhi confidant sent to Mumbai to handle the formation of the troika government.
Pawar felt the Governor, a former BJP chief minister from Uttarakhand, will take the plea that there is President's rule in the state for six months to rebuff efforts to form a government, thereby giving time to the BJP, until it succeeds in engineering defections.
It would also be Sharad Pawar's idea that Ajit should bargain with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to close the corruption cases in the irrigation scam to remove the sword kept hanging on his head; interestingly, Fadnavis fell for it, the Congress leader said.
That is why Ajit resigned as deputy CM as soon as the floor test was ordered. On return to the NCP, Ajit was welcomed back and that explains why Sharad Pawar did not expel him from the party even while getting Jayant Patil elected in his place as the legislature party leader.
In the bargain, Patil may be one of the deputy CMs from the NCP side but it will be no surprise if Sharad Pawar gives the post to Ajit Pawar after some time, to ensure there is no bickering within the party.
The Congress leader says one should not underestimate Sharad Pawar, pointing out that nobody trusts him in Maharashtra since the manipulations he took recourse to in 1978 to become the youngest chief minister of the state at 38.
He had then formed the PDF government after splitting the Congress. He had brought down the coalition government of two Congress factions led by Congress(S) leader Vasantdada Patil, which was formed after the election results threw up a hung Assembly.