Of sugar daddies, fathers, uncles and estranged nephews

From Bharosa cell's winning strategies in Nagpur to decoding the Uddhav versus Shinde battle, what shapes Maharasthra's political chessboard?

NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Getty Images)
NCP chief Sharad Pawar (Getty Images)

Sujata Anandan

Sometimes, we do not really appreciate what the police is called upon to do for us.

Last week, in Nagpur, a sugar daddy was gently persuaded to give up his year-long liaison with a 22-year-old hotelier.

The Bharosa cell of the Nagpur police is a family dispute redressal cell, akin to the social service units set up by the Bombay and Delhi police, among others. Last year, it received 2,176 complaints of various marital transgressions of which 1,901 were successively resolved without much ado.

But this 49-year-old man, having an affair with a girl barely two years older than his own 20-year-old daughter, proved quite intransigent. Having met at a pub in Nagpur 18 months ago, their relationship suddenly blossomed, and the man’s family found he was less and less at home and suddenly paying no attention to his wife and children who he had deeply cared for before.

Growing suspicious, his wife confronted him about his frequent late home comings, whereupon the man dropped coming home altogether.

But then they came to know what was keeping him away from home when his daughter uncovered a chat on his mobile phone. They decided to approach police commissioner Amitesh Kumar who handed the case over to the Bharosa cell.

Initially hostile to any counselling, a few weeks of talk broke him down enough to accept responsibility for his family – he is in financial management – but he steadfastly refused to give up his young girlfriend.

Cracking their heads in frustration, the Bharosa cell then hit upon a more workable strategy -- a female inspector was pressed into service who then approached the 22-year-old girl, woman to woman.

“Don’t break up another woman’s marriage and family unnecessarily,” the inspector pleaded. Perhaps the girl was already uncomfortable being in a relationship with a man old enough to be her father. She readily agreed and even decided to go back home to her own district, leaving her sugar daddy rightly stranded.

Whatever the consequences of this were for the man and his family, the Nagpur Bharosa cell heaved a sigh of relief that they had resolved yet another case without the people involved having to go to court.

All eyes had been glued to the Pawar family’s annual Diwali gathering at Baramati where the clan spanning several generations gathers annually to meet, exchange information about personal lives and careers and set the goals for the next year.

With the break-up in the Nationalist Congress Party, the political ramifications of a possible coming together of the estranged uncle and nephew were of high interest. Not only did Ajit Pawar make it to Govindbagh, the Pawar family’s ancestral home in Kate chi Wadi village in Baramati but even Sharad Pawar called on his nephew at his personal residence.

So did Supriya Sule, his daughter, on the day of bhau beej (bhai dooj). She is an only child but has many male cousins. So, her attendance with Ajit Pawar particularly drew a lot if speculation. While Supriya dismissed that talk by saying family and politics were two different issues and they didn’t mix one with the other, political analysts wonder if Ajit Pawar is about to jump ship again.

Not one used to shirk work, he has not attended Mantralaya for three weeks under the pretext of recovering from dengue. Doctors have advised him to rest and to avoid infection, he said. However, he is seen gadding about town otherwise.

Political observers point to the ongoing clashes between him and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over a gamut of issues - the appointments of ministers of state, of guardian ministers and corporation chiefs among others, which are necessary for Ajit to keep his flock sated and prevent them from defecting again.

But Shinde is equally adamant that he will not be hurried or bullied into these appointments. With the 31 December deadline for resolution of the disqualification issue regarding his rebellion against the Shiv Sena fast approaching, it seems only a matter of days before Ajit could shake up the government depending on which way the wind blows.

Who owns Bal Thackeray? His own son, Uddhav Thackeray or the son’s rival, Eknath Shine?

The dispute is unlikely to be resolved in a hurry as once again the two factions clashed at Bal Thackeray’s memorial at Shivaji Park where both Uddhav and Shinde had gone to pay tributes to the patriarch on his death anniversary (17 November). While Shinde and Uddhav left quietly after paying their tributes, their supporters each demanded the other group exit the hallowed grounds as they had no right to claim Bal Thackeray for their own.

Well, the Shinde faction has been awarded the use of Bal Thackeray’s name for their party, but blood is always thicker than water and no one can deny that Uddhav is his son and heir. So, the jury has to remain out on this one, at least until the next election establishes who has the bigger hold on the masses. 

Sharad Pawar seems to have made up his mind that Narendra Modi is not for him. In a blistering attack on Modi, in Solapur on Thursday, he called into question Modi’s fitness for the office, given his predilection for personal abuses of various chief ministers.

“I have heard so many prime ministers, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and others. None of them had a bad word for any of their rivals. This man keeps making ad hominem remarks against CMs without provocation. He will suffer a fallout for this at the hustings because people do not really appreciate such abuse,” he said.

To Amit Shah’s remark, “What does Pawar know?” he quipped, “Well the people know. Shah came here (to Solapur) but his candidate lost, didn’t he?”

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