Sharadchandra Govindrao Pawar (Marathi: शरदचंद्र गोविंदराव पवार) (born December 12, 1940), popularly known as Sharad Pawar, is an Indian politician from the state of Maharashtra. He is the president of the Nationalist Congress Party which he founded in 1999, after separating from the Indian National Congress. He has previously held the posts of Defence Minister of India and Chief Minister of Maharashtra and currently serves as Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Government of India.
Pawar hails from the town of Baramati in the Pune district of Maharashtra. He leads the NCP delegation in the Lok Sabha, representing his home constituency of Baramati. He has a prominent place in Indian national politics as well as regional politics of Maharashtra.
Since 2005, Pawar is also serving as the elected Chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
In 1987, Sharad Pawar returned to Congress(I) party after being out of it for over nine years. In June 1988, Prime Minister and Congress President Rajiv Gandhi decided to induct then Maharashtra Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan into Union Cabinet as Finance Minister and Sharad Pawar was chosen to replace Chavan as chief minister. Sharad Pawar had the task of checking the rise of the Shiv Sena in state politics, which was a potential challenge to the dominance of Congress party in the state. In 1989 Lok Sabha elections, Congress party won 28 seats out of 48 in Maharashtra. Though the Congress party maintained a respectable tally in the state and was not routed as in some other states like Rajasthan and Gujarat, it meant a loss of 15 seats when compared with 1984. In the state assembly elections of February 1990, the alliance between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party posed a stiff challenge to the Congress. Though the Congress managed to retain power, it fell short of an absolute majority in the state assembly for the first time, winning 141 seats out 288. Sharad Pawar was sworn in as chief minister again on March 4, 1990 with the support of 12 independent MLAs.
Sharad Pawar led the campaign for the Congress for the mid-term parliamentary elections of 1991 in Maharashtra. The Congress bettered its performance by winning 38 seats out of 48 in the state. During the course of election campaign, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. There were reports in the media that Pawar's name was being considered for the Prime Minister's post along with those of P.V. Narasimha Rao and Arjun Singh. However the Congress Parliamentary Party elected P.V. Narasimha Rao as its leader and he was sworn in as Prime Minister on June 21, 1991. Rao decided to induct Pawar as Defence Minister. On June 26, 1991, Pawar took over as that portfolio, continuing till March 1993. After Pawar's successor in Maharashtra, Sudhakarrao Naik stepped down, Rao sent Pawar back as chief minister of the state.
He was sworn in as chief minister for his fourth and most controversial term on March 6, 1993. Almost immediately, Mumbai, the financial capital of India and the state capital of Maharashtra, was rocked with series of bomb blasts on March 12, 1993.
The Deputy Commissioner of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, G.R. Khairnar made a series of accusations against Pawar for being involved in corruption and protecting the criminals. Though Khairnar could not produce any evidence in support of his claims, it inevitably affected Pawar's popularity. Notable social worker Anna Hazare started a fast unto death to demand expulsion of 12 officers of the Forest department of Government of Maharashtra, who had been accused of corruption. The opposition parties accused Pawar's government of trying to shield the corrupt officers. Further, there was a sex scandal at Jalgaon in which a number of young girls were subjected to sexual abuse, which expanded to involve local municipal corporators belonging to Congress. The 1994 Gowari stampede occurred at Nagpur and killed 114 people. Nagpur Police were trying to disperse almost 50000 Gowari protesters using baton charge but it created panic and triggered stampede amongst protesters. Majority of casualties were women and children who were crushed to death under the crowd’s feet scrambling to escape police line. Some were victims of sharp barb piercing as they were climbing over high fence to escape. Allegations were made that the mishap occurred because welfare minister Madhukarrao Pichad did not meet with the delegation of the Vanjara people in time. Though Pichad stepped down owing moral responsibility for the mishap, this incident was another setback to Sharad Pawar's government.
The elections to the Vidhan Sabha were due to be held in 1995. The Shiv Sena and BJP combine was leading the Congress in the polls, and there was widespread rebellion in the Congress party. The Shiv Sena-BJP combine won 138 seats while Congress party retained only 80 seats in the state assembly. Sharad Pawar had to step down and Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi took over as chief minister on March 14, 1995.
Till the Lok Sabha elections of 1996, Sharad Pawar served as the Leader of the Opposition in State Legislative Council. In the 1996 General elections, he won from the Baramati seat and has not returned to the State Assembly since.
In June 1997, he unsuccessfully challenged Sitaram Kesri for the post of Congress President. In the mid-term parliamentary elections of 1998, Sharad Pawar not only won from his constituency, Baramati but also led the Congress to an emphatic win in Maharashtra. His move to align with the Republican Party of India (Athvale) and Samajwadi Party for the elections in the state brought rich dividents and the Congress party and allies won 37 seats out of 48 in the state. Sharad Pawar served as Leader of Opposition in 12th Lok Sabha.
After 12th Lok Sabha was dissolved and elections to 13th Lok Sabha were due, Pawar, P.A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar demanded that the Congress Party needed to project someone born in India as the Prime Ministerial candidate and not the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, who had entered party politics and replaced Kesri as Congress President.
In June 1999, Pawar and Sangma founded the Nationalist Congress Party. His party had to align with the Congress party to form a coalition government in Maharashtra as neither party could win an absolute majority on its own in the 1999 assembly elections. Pawar, however, did not return to state politics, and Vilasrao Deshmukh of the Congress was chosen as Chief Minister, with Chagan Bhujbal representing the NCP as his deputy. The alliance has endured at the national and state level to this day.
On November 29, 2005, he was elected President of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). He was the key behind starting first ever Indian Premier League (20-20 cricket matches) which was a huge success.
Sharad Pawar is renouned for his good relations with all other political leaders from other parties and is considered to be India's one of most strongest political leader. He has been the force behind development in Indian aviation industry, making air travel affordable to many. His initiatives for establishing various industries in the state of Maharshtra kept the state always a step ahead than others.
Pawar was president of Pune International Marathon Trust, which host Pune International Marathon for last 22 years.
Cracks in the House of Pawar ; Ajit Pawar's Resignation Is a Threat to Sharad Pawar's Succession Plans as Much as It Is a Challenge Thrown at the Congress
Oct 08, 2012; On September 24, Prithviraj Chavan, the Maharashtra chief minister, met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar at...