15 June, 2021

No-Win Battles

The face-off between Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar thwarts Congress hopes of a speedy revival of the party

No-Win Battles

HOSTING a lavish dinner for Everest climbers from Pune in the capital last Tuesday, Sharad Pawar appeared unconcerned about the political cliffhanger being written at his own doorstep. Pawar-baiters, afforded a golden opportunity by the defeat of Sonia Gandhi nominee Ram Pradhan in the Rajya Sabha elections, had stepped up their proxy battle against the Maratha leader. The objective: to "finish him off". But neither is Pawar finished nor can the Congress afford to wipe him out.

Ten indignant MLAs from Maharashtra, the latest in a string of Pawar men to be targeted by the high command after Pradhan's defeat, had landed in New Delhi to answer showcause notices for having signed nomination forms of non-official candidate and Pawar's former lieutenant, Arun Mehta. Would their explanations be accepted? Would charges against MP and Pawar associate Praful Patel be dropped? Would ousted MPCC chief Ranjit Deshmukh, a Pawar supporter who willy-nilly accepted responsibility for the debacle, be replaced by an anti-Pawar man? Would pro-Pawar...

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