Sharad Pawar represent all that is rotten in Indian politics: corruption and self enrichment, the holding on to power at all costs, brazen nepotism, complete disregard for the public good and a singular self interest that misuses public office in the most blatant and unashamed manner.
When Sonia Gandhi, at the repeated “behest” of her party assumed the position as president of the Indian National Congress (INC) in March 1998, this dealt a death blow to Sharad Pawar’s national political aspirations and 1999 saw the formation of the Nationalist Congress Party.
As of now, all the prominent leaders of INC are tainted either with charges of corruption, criminal acts or other matters of moral turpitude to a lesser or larger extent – Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, his nephew Ajit Pawar, former minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel and others.
The Litany of Charges against Sharad Pawar
The list of the of charges of corruption and illegal activities against Sharad Pawar is so long, that any other person would have quit active politics due sheer shame and ignominy a long time ago:
- Sharad Pawar’s name was cited in the massive 600 billion stamp paper scam involving Abdul Karim Telgi
- In 2007 he was named in the multi crore wheat import scam. In a controversial decision, the government allowed private traders to buy wheat from farmers, which caused a shortage in granaries. This required wheat to be imported and resulted in massive profits for traders who had previously bought wheat at very cheap rates. This had the then opposition party BJP calling for Pawar’s resignation.
- Also in 2007, it was alleged that the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC) had granted special privileges to Pawar, his daughter Supriya, son in law Sadanand Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar. In the matter of a PIL filed in respect of land allocations made in Pune, the Bombay High Court issued notices to Pawar and his family members. In the same matter, Pawar was served notice for contempt of court for speaking to the press about the sub judice matter.
- Pawar disclosed assets worth 120 million in 2011 but a cursory examination of his stakes in the City Corporation, IPL’s Pune Franchise and other business interests belied this assertion, and it was alleged that his actual worth far exceeded the stated asset worth.
- Pawar was also named by Nira Radia in the 2G spectrum scam as having spoken to prime accused A Raja about allocations to Swan Telecom. It was alleged that Pawar’s ministry of agriculture could be controlling the controversial DB Realty
- Most frequently Pawar was under the scanner for being unable to or deliberately not controlling the prices of agricultural produce. There was the matter such as the import of defective wheat in 2007, steep rises in sugar prices in 2009, and the onion price rise in 2010-11.
- In the Lavasa matter, it was alleged that Pawar had demanded illegal compensation for granting certain permissions to the corporation
- As many as 15,000 farmer suicides a year or 2 lakh farmer suicides took place under his watch as minister for agriculture. This was dismissed with characteristic unconcern as a ‘normal thing’
- Endosulfan is a toxic pesticide known to have highly negative impacts on human health and the environment; yet Pawar came out in support of endosulfan, making the specious claim that it had not yet been proven dangerous.
- Pawar is known as something of a sugar baron in parts of Maharashtra such as Baramati, and he was also accused of diverting irrigation resources to suit his vested interests; becoming directly responsible for the woes farmers face in his native state
- Pawar’s corrupt practices and utter indifference to the public good caused such wide spread frustration that Harvinder Singh, publicly slapped Pawar in November 2011
The Notorious Nephew – Corruption Charges Against Ajit Pawar
Currently the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra has had various allegations of several illegal activities leveled against him.
- Ajit Pawar has been accused to illegally and unfairly favouring Lavasa Corporation – which is known mainly for the (as yet incomplete) massive planned city near Pune. The project has been under the scanner for shady if not outright illegal land procurement deals, negative environmental impacts and illegally acquired funding via political backing. Lavasa being able to procure land at rates way below market rates is alleged to be because of political backing. The misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 700 billion is another charge leveled.
- Ajit Pawar made a callous remark about irrigation problems faced by the state, implying that nothing could be done about the lack of water in the dams. At a time when his state was experiencing drought he made the utterly tasteless, Marie Antoinette-like remark – “If there is no water in the dam … Should we urinate into it?”
- In another instance of staggering arrogance that actually amounts to criminal intimidation, Ajit Pawar, when campaigning for Supriya in Baramati, threatened villagers that if they did not cast votes in favour of his cousin, water supply to their village would be cut off. It was also contented that his actions amounted to a violation of the Election code of conduct.
Charges Against Supriya Sule and Husband Sadanand Sule
Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule took over her father’s mantle in Baramati when she contested for and won the seat in 2009. There were strong allegations leveled against Supirya and her husband Sadanand regarding irregularities relating to the IPL. It was alleged that Sadadand owned 10% of a firm that enjoyed exclusive broadcasting rights of matches and that Sharad Pawar and Supriya jointly owned 16.22% of the firm that bid for the IPL’s Pune franchise.
Beginning Of the End for the Pawars?
What with the Indian electorate displaying a new maturity that refuses to knuckle under yoke of dynastic politics; which has roundly rejected corruption in politics in recent times, it would appear that this is the end of the road for Sharad Pawar and his opportunistic family. The upcoming Maharastra Assembly Elections slated for the 15 of October 2014 will reveal all.