Veteran Nationalist Congress Party leader and former union minister Praful Patel for the first time revealed that his boss and mentor Sharad Pawar missed PM’s post twice in 1991 and in 1996. On Pawar’s birthday today, Patel in a write up released by the party clearly said age is not a bar in politics and hinted that there is a bigger role waiting for his boss..
Patel said after the killing of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, there was a strong thinking among the leaders and workers that Sharad Pawar should be made the Congress President. ‘’However, the ‘’durbar’’ coterie in Delhi was once again opposed to the idea. They hatched the plan and made PV Narsimha Rao the President of the All India Congress Party. Actually, Rao was ill and aging. He had not even contested the Lok Sabha elections. He had made up his mind to retire from the active politics and had shifted his base to Hyderabad from Delhi. However, Rao was convinced and made the President only to oppose Pawar’s candidature,’’ he noted.
Thereafter the Lok Sabha elections were announced when a big group in the Congress party made a strong case for a young and dynamic leader like Pawar, who had a good grip over administration, should be the Prime Ministerial candidate. It was supported by the Congress leaders from various states. ‘’ However, the scheming coterie in Delhi again united and used or rather misused Sonia Gandhi’s name to anoint Narsimha Rao as the PM. Pawar saheb was, however, entrusted with the important responsibility as a Defence Minister,’’ noted Patel.
Patel further observed that Narsimha Rao always nursed a certain animosity against Pawar Saheb when his name was considered for the Congress President or PM. ‘’Rao always worked on how Pawar’s influence in the cabinet was reduced and how he could be weakened in the system. After 1992 communal riots, Rao sent Pawar back to Maharashtra as CM,’’ he said.
Further, Patel recalled that in the 1996 general elections the Congress had won 145 seats. HD Deve Gowda, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the left leaders had agreed to a single point agenda that Sharad Pawar should take the lead and ask Rao to step aside. If this happens they agreed to support a government by the Congress party. ‘’ However, Narsihma Rao did not flinch at all and Congress was forced to support the Deve Gowda government from outside,’’ he said.
Patel argued that even though Pawar has turned 80 he still can become the PM and exhorted the party members and MVA allies to work hard for winning maximum Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra so that he will have his number at his side. Although Pawar has denied becoming UPA Chairperson, Patel in a subtle manner has said he is among few leaders who can bring all secular and likeminded parties together to take on BJP.