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Pawar Turns to God for Last Hurrah

Pawar Turns to God for Last Hurrah

Author: Ravikiran Deshmukh
Publication: Mumbai Mirror
Date: March 28, 2009

Introduction: Known for his agnostic views, Sharad Pawar has finally compromised and turned to the gods - all for his final shot at the PM's post

Sharad Pawar is the best man never to have led India. Now, in his last pitch for the post of the Prime Minister, the Nationalist Congress Party chief has turned to allies he never relied on before: The gods. On March 12, the 69-year-old political veteran visited his village Nandwal in Satara, where he prayed to the village goddess at the Mhatoba-Jogubai temple - an act that's most interesting, considering that he is known for his agnostic views. Chief Minister at 38, Pawar owes his political genes to his mother Sharada, who worked for the Peasants and Workers' Party (PWP), which was formed in the 1950s by Maratha Communists. The PWP members were not completely against the gods, but did not engage in rituals. Pawar, who has often said how his mother influenced him deeply, never wore any stone, nor any ring, although almost all Delhi politicians swore by one baba or the other.

Last year, when the Dabhol power project was revived after much controversy, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde sat down for a pooja at the project site. Pawar, however, preferred to use that time to chat with journalists and officials outside the mandap.

Even as the CM, he hardly performed the official mahapooja at Pandharpur's Lord Vithal Temple where lakhs of devotees visit twice a year in a procession.

This year, however, it's been different. Not only did Pawar start his unofficial campaign after performing the pooja at the Mhatoba-Jogubai temple, he also went for a darshan to Pandharpur.

Interestingly, Pawar will be filing his nomination only after he visits the Tulajabhavani temple at Tulajapur, said to be the deity of Maharashtra.

His supporters are surprised, but want to see him as the PM at any cost.

Arjun won Mahabharata only after Lord Krishna blessed him, they point out. Maybe Pawar needs the divine blessings to win the political Mahabharata.

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