Pawar is Pune that Pune knows nought



Yogesh Jadhav, managing director of the Pudhari group of newspapers, recently told me, only half-jokingly, “When we studied History as kids we were told that Poona once belonged to the Peshwas. The next generation will learn that Pune belongs to the Pawars.”He was, of course, reacting to the Sakal group of newspapers (owned by the Pawars) taking the entry of Pudhari into Pune rather badly – Sakal then launched a campaign against the Jadhavs in Kolhapur, the headquarters of Pudhari. The bitter battle is still an on-going phenomenon — but more about it later.

I recall that comment of Jadhav’s now in another context – the just breaking news that Sharad Pawar had some stake in a group that made an unsuccessful bid for the Indian Premier League’s Pune franchise.

I am not very good with names, though I never forget a face I have seen. So when I saw Annirudh Deshpande speaking on television, the penny dropped. He was the very same guy who had hosted me and my photographer (at the behest of Sharad Pawar, of course) at a girls’ hostel run by Pawar’s educational trust almost a decade ago.

There were just the five of us, including Vithal Maniyar, Pawar’s close confidante and said to be in charge of all his finances. That evening of drinks and dinner was unforgettable because Pawar showed us a side to him that is not normally visible to journalists (I believe he reserves it only for friends).

I was then working on a story which ultimately featured on the front page of the Sunday magazine (not Brunch) of Hindustan Times. We called it `The Milkman of Baramati’ because it had been a great discovery that Pawar’s Dynamix dairy was not only bottling milk for its own brand, but was supplying milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products to practically every brand coming to India – Britannia, Nestle, Sachs, MacDonald’s et al. The plant was also packaging iced teas for Lipton, fruit juices for Tropicana, yogurts for Danone – you name it, the Dynamix dairy had it. In fact, the only brands that did not have milk products supplied by Pawar’s dairies were the home-grown Amul and Vijaya dairies alone.

Sharad Pawar's Dynamix dairy bottles and/or packages every multinational brand available in the country.

When I asked Pawar about it, he said, “The world is globalising and multinationals are here to stay. Now they are not here for philanthropy. But if they want to make profits out of us, then I believe we should make sure that even we, as Indians, get something out of them. Hence, we have brought Dynamix up to international standards and nothing goes into the markets without passing through Dynamix.’’

It was a happy day spent pottering through Pawar’s hothouse gardens and seeing the results of his experiments with growing mulberry bushes in Baramati (he told me then he would consider naming the end product `Sharad silk’) as well as the completely mechanised process of milking at Dynamix (no human hand to soil the purity of the products, Pawar said). But I needed an interview at the end of the day – and for that he took me and my photographer across to Pune. “We can speak in a more relaxed atmosphere there,” he said.

In the hall of the guest suites above that hostel, I was startled to discover the side of Pawar I had never seen before (I will reserve the details). When I entered the hall after a freshening-up in my room, there was an array of drinks spread across the table. “What would you like?” asked Pawar. “Shall I pour you a whisky or a rum? Or would you prefer a gin?”

Trying to stop my surprise from showing, I said, “Well, actually a Thums-Up will do just fine.”

“Don’t worry,” he said, “No one will tell tales. They are all family here.”

“I don’t drink,” I replied. “But perhaps my photographer will be glad to join you all. I’ll stick to my Limca.”

Of course, the four men had great fun drinking away the night but I recall it was Aniruddh — and not Pawar — who poured those drinks and was in charge of keeping them all replenished. And making sure there was steaming hot food at the end of that evening. In between drinks, Pawar let on that Annirudh’s mother (or was it aunt?) ran a bank where women who were members of the Dynamix dairy deposited their day’s earnings and that the bank had already netted a profit in triple-digit crores in a few years.

So, it is my guess, that if Aniruddh bid for the Pune IPL team, in whatever capacity, he had Pawar’s blessings to do so. For, like Jadhav told me, not even a leaf can quiver in Pune without Pawar’s consent and those who dare to almost always end up paying the price.

Still I am surprised that Pawar who is usually such a sure foot at keeping at least six layers between himself and the nearest controversial element, is now beginning to lose that touch. Since the IPL scam hit the ceiling, his daughter has had to do much fielding denying her family’s involvement in any aspect of the IPL. And Pawar’s explanations are becoming increasingly incredible.

I wonder, then, if Pawar’s beloved Pune will be the undoing, this century, of its most famous Maratha warlord.

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  • Vikram

    There is no significant land dealing in and around pune without the the ‘Pawar’ cut

    [Reply]

    Rohit Reply:

    The IPL scam 2 is just an example of how politicians like these have plundered and raped everything they can lay on in this country. Apparently India has been up for looting ever since we became independent. Shameful how we tolerate it and even ‘respect’ some of these politicians.

    [Reply]

    Mahendra Reply:

    I am curious about how Suresh Kalmadi manages to survive in Pune then. Would you sometime write about it or at least drop some hints :) .

    [Reply]

  • Siddharth

    Sujata, I absolutely look forward to reading all your articles ! A “rare breed of Journalist” you surely are.

    I think its his “Karma” that is now haunting Pawar Saheb ! He is a brilliant politican, and one of the few Marathas that can stand up to 10 Janpath ! Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde and the rest are just foot soldiers of Madam Gandhi !

    All said and done, this might just be the beginning of the end of Pawar !

    [Reply]

    chanderkanta Reply:

    Siddharth, could you define ur phrase ‘brilliant politician’? Is it a praise or a criticism of the man? First to be a politician and then be called brilliant to top it, has left me thoroughly confused. does it mean the same as : Ek To Karela , Doosra Neem Chaddha ?

    [Reply]

  • Noop

    Well Pawar is the biggest Crook and is in the same league as Lalu & Co…….His closeness to Dawood was well known and was never investigated…..Well all Indian Politicians are there for their Family and Kins…..Who cares about India…..No Wonder Muslim invaders and Britishers were able to rule us for centuries…………….God save our country……

    [Reply]

    chanderkanta Reply:

    But the crook has once again got away ,since the Media has got so carried away by the resurfacing of Anderson and Bhopal tragedy , that the nation , the BJP and all have forgotten IPL, Deshpande and Pawar. He does indeed have nine lives. Don’t compare the likes of Lalu with him; theyare but nursery kids before him.

    [Reply]

  • RK

    Sujata, Instead of fooling people of india by hiding behind the tag of Journalist and writing paid news for congress party, you should formally join Congress party.

    [Reply]

  • Anand

    I would hope that this event nothing less than a SCAM gets exposed. He looks like one person who has done all the black marketing and is holding onto billions of Rupees by crooked means.

    But the other part is, sadly, justice always goes in favor of such people who have the might and have favored nepotism all their life.

    A BLACK SPOT in the name of Marathi Manoos.

    [Reply]

  • Ramesh Lahoti

    It seems Pawar has not read anything about Abraham Lincoln and particularly one sentence which he said: “You can fool some people sometimes but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” If today, I am sad to say, that Maharashtrians are coming out of the woodworks and pointing their fingers and his crooked practices, then I have to ask them, whether they had put an handkerchief round their heads and covered their eyes all these times. I have been asking myself what does the Enforcement Directorate do at all. It appears to me that they get their wages punctually and go home (probably). We have in one other part of Maharashtra a new Pawar in the making. Nothing runs in that part without his permission, particularly all types of construction work, even if water leakages or sewage repairs are to be fixed. Pawars and many others are of the same category, if not worse than Koda and the ED is sleeping. There is more rot in Pawar which shall come out in due course.

    [Reply]

  • Kamala

    Good blog.. Hope you will reveal all “off the record” details in future.

    [Reply]

  • Kamala

    Sharad Pawar has been one of the shrewdest politicians of his generation. Before his time runs out, he is making an all-out effort to garner as much (money and political mileage) as possible. In order to secure his Daughter’s political career, I feel, he could not join hands with BJP and Left in the last election. He must have realized that becoming PM for a one term may not be worth risking Supriya’s career. Otherwise, he could have become a consensus PM candidate for all non-Congress parties.

    Whatever it may be no one can forget the way he handled the Mumbai serial blast in 1993. That is his greatest achievement.

    [Reply]

  • KHORANA

    Mr.PAWAR batted very well in LOK SABHA ELECTIONS, unlike LALLOO JI & PASWAN JI & many others , he was the only person who kept guessing both B.J.P & CONGRESS.,& TIMELY hit a boundry by playing his MARATHA CARD to win SHIV SENA. But INDIN VOTERS are much wise,But with his shrewedness could save HIS MINISTERIAL POST..to save “”"his intrests”"” & the TOP POST of B.C.C.I.
    After reading the main article,no other proof is required .This I.P.L had L.B.W. to MR.THRAROOR & CAUGHT & BOWLED MR.MODI,& CONGRESS has not sent the night watch man to defend him from the fierce bowling of late evenings when shutters are coming down .So he will not only have to bat in the evening, as well in the early morning, when the BOWLERS are allways fresh. In the end I will like to congratulate the writer of this main article. As the OPPOSITION is after the team of P.M / SONIA / RAHUL to get them , to keep the intrest of getting the P.M. ship in next election, which is getting further awey by passing of everyday.

    [Reply]

  • Amal

    Pawar is obviously the shrewdest politician. He got into BCCI just to make money. IPL is a money making machine. He is so smart that he even utliized blemishless Khairnar & Anna Hazare to his advantage. He owns large parts of land around Pune. Its surprising that even crores & crores don’t satisfy such greedy people. What do they accumulate this wealth for – so that their kids don’t have to move a finger.

    Politely speaking, he is a shameless man, one of the most corrupt politicians of our time. And I can’t prove it.

    [Reply]

  • Ziauddin Shafi

    In the big bad international corporate world, we need people like Sharad Pawar who not only understand business but are masters of real politik too. Really, I mean it. Dynamix also exports milk powder to Saudi Arabia – and that’s one very demanding market quality-wise. Whatever he may be accused of, as long as his company keeps winning export orders and able to compete with international brands in the open market, that says a lot about the man’s vision and politico-business acumen. Moreover, he did not kill 25 thousand Muslims to stay in power – that’s a very big plus point to his brand of politics. This IPL issue is a joke – even if he has any share in it, who cares? All politicians belonging to all political parties are corrupt and have benami businesses (you know how much money the Karnataka CM makes daily?) – the only good in this mess for the country would be when they invest all their ill-gotten wealth internally, instead of parking it outside. Sharad Pawar, therefore, should be weighed in sugar (gold would be too expensive considering his weight) for investing his wealth in our country.

    [Reply]

    Al Reply:

    What about rumours of his huge stake in Jet Airways?

    [Reply]

  • http://rediffmail.com muslim bhagawat

    Why our law want to punish kasab and afjal guru when they have pleaded innocence in the court of law and the court has awarded capital punishment but the innocent ministers like a.raja and sharad pawar are being hounded by the politicians and media for their role in 2g scama dn ipl scams?what have they done in comaprision to teh crimes of kasab ect.it may be true that araja was found involved in 2g spectrum auction case in which our central govt sustaniedn a losso of about 60/70 thousand crores which could be utlised for the welfare of the people and could have been utilsed for bringing our army at par with other developed nations.but our pm saved him by giving his protective cover although he is well aware of the corruption by araja .why it is so?why are our own people loot us but they are being protected by our pm and sonia.the compulsiosn of saving the govt may be there but is not the govt sustained the loss of 60/70 thousand crores?so who is more dreaded? Araja or afjalguru?like wise sharad pawar has milked the country in price rise.the country has never seen so much price rise in past except under the rule of sharad pawar as agri minister.he had made bilions of dollars out of suagr price increase but our pm found himslef helplsess to act against him or his corruptions.now ipl scam has also covered up by the pm.sharad pawar and his daughter has establsihed a company and tried to purchase ipl team but failed.now thief of thief modi want to save him .

    [Reply]

  • http://www.yahoo.co.in Ramesh Kumar Sharma

    Respected Sujata,

    Journalist is journalist, and to me Mahatama Gandhi has set the example of Journalism. More I read News Papers Blogs and other sites, its all known stories with precision details to all regions and part of countries. There was a time about 60-65 years when Politics was done for the service barring some exceptions( Human vices are age old). Fear of God and a code of Ethics prevailed in the atmoshpere.

    Cross culture exposure and of course our own weaknesses has compromised with the Bar-et-law of ethics. The Indian mind has sharp memory and update with the names of Krishna Menon, Hindujas, Rais, Jai Lalitha, Laloo, Sukh Ram, Sheila Kaul, Satish Sharma, Malhotras, Paswans, Jagjiwan Ram. All those big names have a tag of influence on people of India for specific reasons.
    The process is the same, only it has multiplied in speed of Internet era.

    But, AM I writing it to cover the black ink on the paper, certainly not. As a sincere citizen of our country, we used to call at times as Mother India, its our duty to rise for the ocassion to establish by our behaviour following the path of Mahatama Gandhi’s Bench marking code of conduct that the people of vices should be afraid that corrupt people should be ashamed to come in social life on their own.

    YES IT IS POSSIBLE, but then the line starts from me first.

    Don’t just do mud slinging, because by this way we only favour such character. JUST BYCOT
    THEIR NAMES WITH ANY CONTENT(+VE OR -VE)OF NEWS AND THEY WILL VANISH FROM THE MEMORY.

    [Reply]

  • Diwakar

    Pawar is the perfect example of an Indian politician……coming from very humble beginnings and rising to become a very rich and powerful personality who has an influence on everyone ranging from madam Gandhi, Dr.Singh, the Lalus, Mulayams, Paswans and not to forget the Dawoods. He has successfully wriggled out of every controversy and people have been fooled to believe that he has been wrongly dragged into all these ‘petty’ matters. What kind of credibility do these people have with the Indian junta, and how does it really matter to them. The next generation of politicians (of Sule’s ilk) are even worse and sound more savvy while dealing with media. The words of Supriya Sule on TV in her typical lisp that she nor her family members have nothing to do with IPL is still very fresh. Alas, we citizens are helpless and can only comment on these columns.

    [Reply]

  • Drishta

    I don’t know why this hulla gulla for Sharad Pawar and his IPL links. A child will tell you that Pawar is not in the cricketing governing body for any interest in the game or charity. He probably doesn’t know how to hold a cricket bat. He ‘is’ there for money, More people have died of suicides in Maharashtra than any other time since he became Agriculture minister. To his credit he successfully rehabilitated Yusuf Patel an all time notorious Bombay don as an respectable builder in in Mumbai and Maharashtra. In turn he helped Pawar to become one of the all times rich and powerful politician. Lalit Modi is only returning favours. He knows Congress will not touch him because of the Maharashtra politics !

    [Reply]

  • Anil

    If u think a cabinet which has corrupt to the teeth like a raja and kamlanath can nail apwar over this flimsy issue then u are living in fool’s paradise guys..

    he is not going anywhere..

    [Reply]

  • sunil joshi

    Please somebody tel me me what is wrong to bid to IPL Pune ( not Poona)
    everybody is busy all media channel and all print media is busy ….
    but nobody is going to told what is wrong in bidding .. if Mr Pawar has offical and white money why not not he

    [Reply]

  • D Rajesh

    Dear Sujata,

    Well this article does have a hint of neutrality on Pawar!

    Could you also find and write about the one-to-one meeting between Pawar & PV Narsimha Rao, which made the otherwise Baramati strongman relinquish his claim to the PM’s post. I am sure he would have shared some details with you.

    [Reply]

  • Ashsih Kolarkar

    Dear Sujata,
    Thanks for sharing juicy detals about formidable Sharad Pawar and his associate Anuridha. Pawar and Pune are synonymous. I’m not sure how he keeps himself relevant even after so many years?

    [Reply]

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