Sharad Govindrao Pawar (born 12 December 1940) is an Indian politician who serves as the president of the Nationalist Congress Party which he founded in 1999, after separating from the Indian National Congress. He previously served as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on three separate occasions and held the posts of Minister of Defence and Minister of Agriculture in the Government of India. Pawar hails from the town of Baramati in the Pune district of Maharashtra. He is a member of the Rajya Sabha where he leads the NCP delegation. He holds a position of prominence in national politics as well as the regional politics of Maharashtra.
Pawar has served as the Chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket in India from 2005 to 2008 and as the president of the International Cricket Council from 2010 to 2012. On 17 June 2015, he was re-elected as president of the Mumbai Cricket Association, a position he held from 2001 to 2010 and in 2012. On 17 December 2016, he stepped down as the President of Mumbai Cricket Association.
Early life and family
Pawar is one of ten children born to Govindrao Pawar, who was employed in the Baramati Farmers' Cooperative (Sahakari Kharedi Vikri Sangh), and Shardabai Pawar, who looked after the family farm at Katewadi, ten kilometres from Baramati. Pawar studied at Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC), University of Pune. He was an average student but active in student politics.
Pawar is married to Pratibha (née Shinde). They have one daughter, Supriya, who is married to Sadanand Sule. Supriya currently represents the Baramati constituency in the 15th Lok Sabha. Pawar's nephew, Ajit Pawar, is also a prominent politician and served as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Pratap Pawar, Sharad Pawar's younger brother, runs the influential Marathi daily, Sakal.
Pawar entered the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for the first time in 1967, representing Baramati, and as a member of the undivided Congress Party. Yashwantrao Chavan was the political mentor of Sharad Pawar.
Pawar broke away from the Congress party to form a coalition government with the Janata Party in 1978, becoming the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for the first time. This Progressive Democratic Front government was dismissed in February 1980, following Indira Gandhi's return to power.
In the 1980 elections Congress (I) won the majority in the state assembly, and A.R. Antulay took over as chief minister. Pawar took over the Presidency of his Indian National Congress (Socialist) (Congress(S)) party in 1983. For the first time, he won the Lok Sabha election from the Baramati parliamentary constituency in 1984. He also won the state assembly election of March 1985 for Baramati and preferred to continue in state politics for a while, resigning from the Lok Sabha. Congress (S), won 54 seats out of 288 in the state assembly, and he became the leader of the opposition.
His returning to Congress (I) in 1987 has been cited as a reason for the rise of the Shiv Sena at that time. Pawar had stated at the time, "the need to save the Congress Culture in Maharashtra", as his reason for returning to Congress. In June 1988, Prime Minister of India and Congress President Rajiv Gandhi decided to induct then Maharashtra Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan into his 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 in the state. In the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, Congress won 28 seats out of 48 in Maharashtra. In the state assembly elections of February 1990, the alliance between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party posed a stiff challenge to Congress. Congress fell short of an absolute majority in the state assembly, winning 141 seats out of 288. Sharad Pawar was sworn in as chief minister again on 4 March 1990 with the support of 12 independent or unaffiliated members of the legislative assembly (MLAs).
During the course of the 1991 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 N.D. Tiwari, in the event of a Congress victory. However the Congress Parliamentary Party (party MPs) elected P.V. Narasimha Rao as its leader and he was sworn in as prime minister on 21 June 1991. Rao named Pawar as Defence Minister. On 26 June 1991, Pawar took over 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 6 March 1993. Almost immediately, Mumbai, the financial capital of India and the state capital of Maharashtra, was rocked with series of bomb blasts on 12 March 1993."
In 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 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 the expulsion of 12 officers of the Maharashtra state forest department who had been accused of corruption. The opposition parties accused Pawar's government of trying to shield the corrupt officers.
The 1994 Gowari stampede occurred at Nagpur, during the winter session of the state assembly, and killed 114 people. Nagpur Police were trying to disperse almost 50,000 Gowari and Vanjari protesters using baton charges but the police created panic and triggered a stampede amongst protesters. Allegations were made that the mishap occurred because welfare minister Madhukarrao Pichad did not meet with the delegation of the Vanjari people in time. Though Pichad, accepting moral responsibility for the mishap, stepped down, this incident was another setback to Sharad Pawar's government.
After 16 years of protest by the Namantar Andolan (Name-change Movement), the state government finally renamed Marathwada University as Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University on 14 January 1994, the compromise new name being an expansion of the old name (Namvistar) rather than a complete change of name (Namanatar). As chief minister Mr Sharad Pawar announced few developments in university departments.
New elections to the Vidhan Sabha were held in 1995. The Shiv Sena-BJP coalition was leading Congress in the polls, and there was widespread rebellion in the Congress party. Shiv Sena-BJP won 138 seats while Congress 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 14 March 1995. Until the Lok Sabha elections of 1996, Sharad Pawar served as the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly. In the 1996 General elections, Pawar won the Baramati seat in the Lok Sabha and left the state assembly.
Political career since 1997
In June 1997, Sharad Pawar unsuccessfully challenged Sitaram Kesri for the post of President of the Indian National Congress. In the mid-term parliamentary elections of 1998, Pawar not only won his constituency, Baramati, but also led Congress to a win by a large majority of Maharashtran Lok Sabha constituencies. Congress was aligned with the Republican Party of India (Athvale) and Samajwadi Party for the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra. The Congress party won 33 Lok Sabha seats outright, and the allied Republican Party of India won 4 more, for a total of 37 out of 48 in the state. Sharad Pawar served as Leader of Opposition in the 12th Lok Sabha.
Formation of Nationalist Congress Party
In 1999, after the 12th Lok Sabha was dissolved and elections to the 13th Lok Sabha were called, Pawar, P. A. Sangma, and Tariq Anwar demanded that the Congress party needed to propose someone native-born 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. This new 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 state assembly elections. Pawar, however, did not return to state politics and Vilasrao Deshmukh of Congress was chosen as chief minister, with Chagan Bhujbal representing the NCP as his deputy.
Cabinet minister in UPA government
After the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, Pawar joined the United Progressive Alliance government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the Minister of Agriculture. In January 2012, Pawar announced that he would not contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election in order to make way for younger leadership. Also in 2012, Pawar gave up the chairmanship of the Empowered Group of Ministers investigating the 2G spectrum scam, days after his appointment by the prime minister, fearing that his association with the decision-making process would drag him into the 2G Spectrum controversy.
Pawar has interests in cricket, kabbadi, kho kho, wrestling and football. He has served as the head of various sports organisations, including
- Mumbai Cricket Association
- Maharashtra Wrestling Association
- Maharashtra Kabbadi Association
- Maharashtra Kho Kho Association
- Maharashtra Olympics Association
- Board of Control for Cricket in India President 2005–2008
- International Cricket Council Vice President
- International Cricket Council President
Pawar served as the president of Pune International Marathon Trust, which has hosted Pune International Marathon for last 22 years.
Pawar is associated with the Hon. Sharad Pawar Public School, under the Shree Gurudatta Education Society; the Sharad Pawar International School, Pune; and the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy, near Mumbai.
Links to criminals
In 1992–93, the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Sudhakarrao Naik made a statement that the state leader of Indian National Congress party and erstwhile-Chief Minister Pawar, had asked him to "go easy on Pappu Kalani", a well known criminal-turned-politician. Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, later concurred with these allegations. Further, Chief Minister Naik also alleged that it was possible that Kalani and Hitendra Thakur, another criminal-turned-politician from Virar, had been given tickets to contest election for the Maharashtra State Legislature at the behest of Pawar, who also put in a word for Naik with the police when the latter was arrested for his role in post-Demolition of the Babri Masjid riots in Mumbai.
Pawar is also alleged to have close links with the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim through Ibrahim's henchman Lakhan Singh based in the Middle East and close relationship with Shahid Balwa, also a suspect in the 2G spectrum scam. These allegations were strengthened by the revelation about the involvement of Vinod Goenka, Balwa's business partner, in a controversial commercial project in Yerwada, Pune, which was being constructed under the same survey number as Pawar's family friend, Atul Chordia, had constructed the Panchshil Tech Park. BJP leader Eknath Khadse alleged that it was Balwa who had applied for environmental clearance for the two projects, a charge that Chordia refuted. Coincidentally, Chordia's Panchshil Pvt. Ltd. has Pawar's daughter, Supriya Sule, and her husband Sadanand as investors. The state government's decision to hand over a 3-acre plot of the Yerwada police station for "re-development" to Balwa was retracted following Balwa's arrest.
Stamp paper scam
Pawar was also named as a beneficiary in a stamp paper scam by a convicted Indian criminal, Abdul Karim Telgi, during a narcoanalysis test, filmed by various Indian news channels, wherein he also mentioned Chhagan Bhujbal.
Controversial wheat imports
In 2007, the BJP asked for Pawar's resignation after alleging he was involved in a multi-crore Indian rupee (INR) scam involving wheat imports. In May 2007, a tender floated by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for procurement of wheat was cancelled when the lowest bid received was for 263 USD/ton. The government subsequently allowed private traders to purchase wheat directly from farmers that year resulting in a paucity of wheat to stock FCI granaries. By July 2007 the shortage at FCI was large enough to require import of wheat at a much higher price of 320–360 USD/ton. Taking advantage of this, traders who had domestically purchased wheat at 900 INR/ton earlier, were now offering the same to FCI at 1,300 INR/ton.
Criticism of agricultural produce prices
As the Minister of Agriculture, Pawar was consistently accused of colluding in the extreme hike in prices of agricultural produce:
- Wheat import in 2007 – The Bombay High Court issued notices to Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, questioning the decision to import defective red wheat, and asking for a directive to submit details of procurement of the crop from different states and the exact process of importing it.
- Sugar prices in 2009 – Opposition parties, including the BJP and the CPI(M) accused Sharad Pawar of engineering a steep rise in the price of sugar to the advantage of hoarders and importers.
- Wheat, Sugar, Rice, and Bean prices in 2009-2010 – The opposition accused Pawar to be responsible on the issue of spiraling prices.
During his tenure as Minister of Agriculture, there have been farmer suicides in excess of 10,000 per year, totalling over 200,000 since 1997. Sharad Pawar has stated on record that he believes that the rate of farmer suicide in India is a 'normal thing'. However he reaffirms that he is taking the necessary steps to reduce the numbers.
Promotion of endosulfan
Even though the pesticide endosulfan has been banned, India is slow to phase it out. In spite of its known negative health effects, Pawar made a remark that endosulfan is not yet proved dangerous. This remark prompted activist Vandana Shiva to call him a corrupt minister.
On 27 October 2007, the Bombay High Court served notices to institutions headed by Pawar, Ajit Pawar, and Sadanand Sule (Sharad Pawar's son-in-law), along with a corresponding notice served to the Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC) on why special privileges were given to Pawar and his family. This was done in consideration of Public Interest Litigation No. 148 of 2006, filed by Shamsunder Potare alleging that the said 2002 land allocations in Pune were illegal. The institutions and properties mentioned include:
- Two 141.15-acre (57.12 ha) plots given allotted to Vidya Pratishthan, an educational society headed by Sharad Pawar
- A 2-acre (0.81 ha) plot allotted to Anant Smriti Pratishthan, headed by Ajit Pawar, the Maharashtra state minister for irrigation and Sharad Pawar's nephew
- A 32.12-acre (13.00 ha) plot allotted to Lavasa Corporation, owned by Sule. Sule handed over his share in 2006.
- A 1-acre (0.40 ha) plot allotted to Shivajinagar Agriculture College
- A 3-acre (1.2 ha) plot allotted to Sharadchandraji Scout and Guide Training Institute.
These allocations were allegedly made by NCP leader and minister Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar who was in charge of MKVDC at the time. Sharad Pawar was served a contempt of court notice on 1 May 2008 in connection with this case for issuing statements to the press even though the matter was subjudice at the time. Also in connection with the case, the respondents were directed not to create third-party interests in the property under dispute and to undertake any developments at their own risk.
IPL exemption from tax controversy
In 2010, in the case of tax exemptions of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Shiv Sena MLA Subhash Desai alleged that the state cabinet decided in January to impose the tax, before the year's IPL season started, but the decision was not implemented because of NCP chief Pawar's association with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Bombay High Court on August 2010 said there was "nothing on record" to show that the Union Minister influenced the Maharashtra government's decision to exempt Indian Premier League matches from entertainment tax.
Controversy faced after assets declaration
In 2011, Sharad Pawar declared his assets to be worth ₹120 million (equivalent to ₹170 million or US$2.7 million in 2016) as part of a mandatory disclosure, but his critics claimed that his wealth far exceeded the stated amount. In 2010, it was alleged that the Pawar family indirectly held a 16% stake in the City Corporation, which had bid ₹11.76 billion (equivalent to ₹18 billion or US$290 million in 2016) for the Pune franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Pawar and his family denied the allegations, but the bidders board of the IPL contradicted their claims.
Nira Radia's allegations
In 2011, under investigation of the 2G spectrum scam Nira Radia told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that agriculture minister Pawar may be controlling the controversial DB Realty. According to the reports, she also told the investigative agency that Pawar may have spoken with former telecom minister A. Raja about the allocation of spectrum and licence to Swan Telecom. Radia also said that she had no documentary proof to back up her allegations. Pawar has denied any link with former DB managing director Shahid Balwa who is now in CBI custody.
Sharad Pawar is alleged to have demanded compensation for allowing the planned-city Lavasa to be constructed. When Lavasa Corporation was receiving necessary clearances from the government of Maharashtra, relatives of Pawar had part-ownership of the company developing the project. Pawar's daughter and son-in-law had more than 20% ownership between 2002 and 2004, and they later sold their stakes. A nephew of his was chairman of Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC) when the MKVDC signed off on lease agreements for Lavasa and allowed it to store water and build dams.
Comments on the 2010 Pune bombing
After the 2010 Pune bombing of German Bakery, Sharad Pawar appeared to take the incident lightly. He said to the reporters, "It is not alright to arrive at a conclusion that the entire Pune city has been targeted. The place where the blast took place is an isolated area", adding "when I was Chief Minister, Mumbai saw 11 simultaneous blasts but everything returned to normal soon."
Pawar was slapped by a youth named Harvinder Singh at the New Delhi Municipal Corporation centre while leaving the premises after attending a literary function on 24 November 2011. The attacker, who previously is said to have assaulted former telecom minister Sukh Ram, was later arrested.
Padma Vibhushan (2017)