Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate’s move against Nationalist Congress Chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar may ignite a ‘son of the soil’ controversy, which has the potential of recoiling on the ruling BJP.
It has all the portents of a political potboiler with sources indicating that Baramati may observe a bandh in protest against the EC action, which could be the precursor to a state-wide agitation.
The ED move is seen as a part of a larger political conspiracy to target Sharad Pawar who had recently quipped that unlike Home Minister Amit Shah, he had never been in jail.
The timing of the FIR, too, is suspect and is clearly linked with the upcoming Assembly
elections. After the mass desertions from the NCP, the BJP was smug in the belief that it has weakened the NCP and Pawar's hold on state politics has waned.
But the octogenarian leader has refused to yield and has vowed to fight back. He did not hold back his punches while hitting out at none other than PM Modi at a recent political rally. His rallies have got massive support and this has clearly unnerved the BJP.
Pawar's Satara rally on Sunday perhaps sent the alarm bells ringing in the saffron camp, because there were indications that Udayan Raje may even lose the forthcoming bye-election, also scheduled for October 21. Pawar's aggressive campaign has also garnered him sympathy.
"At 80, Pawar saheb is fighting for us," is the refrain. Also, they realise that all the defectors to BJP were in some way indebted to Pawar for their political breaks.
The latest moves by ED may not silent Pawar. On the contrary, he and his cadre will get reactivated. This episode may also acquire caste overtones.
This is because Pawar is seen to be one of the biggest leaders of Maratha community while the ruling dispensation is seen as ‘Brahminical.’
The Marathi-Gujarati schisms could also get played out in this backdrop. Only time will tell whether the BJP has walked into a minefield or not?