By QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Nov 14 : Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar has penned an emotional letter to his mother, the late Shardabai Govindrao Pawar, revealing how he pines for her even today, several years after her demise.
Like a doting but obedient son, the 79-year-old leader, in the letter penned on the eve Diwali, first said, “Sorry for the late letter!” and explained how the past year had been very stressful, in the two-page letter.
“First it was the Lok Sabha elections (mid-2019) and the Maharashtra Assembly elections (end-2019)…The UPA did not succeed in the Lok Sabha elections,” Pawar said.
Then, his party was in trouble when some close, senior colleagues deserted it, and within the next few months the big challenge of winning the Assembly elections came up.
“But you had given me the mantra to fight tirelessly … so there was no question of exhaustion or giving up,” Pawar said.
He recalled how she lost one leg because of a bull attack, but she persistently lived her life and also engaged in public service.
“It was on the strength of that inspiration that I decided to rise again and travelled extensively to the remotest corners of Maharashtra. I felt a surge of new youthful energy. I even braved the heavy rains during my Satara rally (October 18, 2019) which seeped into the peoples’ soul and translated as votes. New political equations were formed and our (Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress) government took office. When it took oath, I remembered how you guided me before I filed the nomination papers for my first-ever election,” Pawar penned.
Though the political turmoil of 2019 subsided, he said in early 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic gripped the state.
He recalled how way back in 1935, Shardabai was elected to the First District Local Board, and left a deep impression on him while handling the dual responsibilities of public life in the Board and on the domestic front.
“You travelled long distances, often lugging the little babies on your side … Knowingly or unknowingly, all these qualities were imbibed in me which enabled me to perform satisfactorily in my public life,” said a grateful Pawar.
Though he was influenced by the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi-Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru-Yashwantrao Chavan’s Congress, Pawar complimented Shardabai for “never imposing your political views on me”, and credited her for teaching him “how there should be harmony despite political differences”.
“On my 75th birthday celebrations, the Hon. President, current and former Prime Ministers and leaders of all parties set aside their political differences to remain present. At that time, your image was before my eyes,” Pawar said of the 2015 event.
The NCP chief said how Shardabai’s advice to work hard for the common good, giving equal justice to both family and social responsibilities, helped the Pawar clan to succeed on all fronts, now among the top political families of the state.
“You gave us full freedom to choose our path as per our desires, yet constantly kept a close watch, whether we studied properly in Pune colleges, who were our friends/peers, what were our interests, etc.,” he said.
Shardabai’s hard work for her 11 children paid off well. The eldest son Vasantrao Pawar became a lawyer, Appasaheb Pawar acquired a degree in agriculture, Anantrao Pawar made his mark in arts and farming, Bapusaheb voyaged in a ship to London, became an engineer and worked there, Suryakantrao Pawar went to Baroda and became an architect, while the youngest Prataprao Pawar became a businessman and a newspaper baron, the sisters were also well educated and are established in their respective lives.
“You did so much for us … But we siblings have a complaint about you. It was your dream that one day I would become the leader of Maharashtra, but were not present when I was sworn-in as the Chief Minister. Not even when Appasaheb and Prataprao were conferred Padma Shri, now when the government of India honoured me with a Padma Vibhushan…” Pawar said with a tinge of emotion in his words.
Nevertheless, he recalled how even today Shardabai’s memories are fresh in the mind, how he still missed her and even though she didn’t display her affections, it was there for her kids.
“Bai…. Even your grandchildren are making waves in different fields, I am sure you must be proud of us…We follow your tradition of the annual Diwali get-together in Diwali, but we miss you very much today,” Pawar said longingly.
Signing off as only ‘Sharad’, the NCP chief urged her to take care of herself and his revered father Aba (Govindrao).
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)