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 Sharad Pawar (Born 1940)
A man with modern, broad outlook and secular credentials, Sharad Pawar is an astute politician with rich administrative experience, perfect knowledge and understanding of agriculture and industrial policies and a mastermind at political maneuvering.
Although known for his manipulative political skills, which sometimes boomerang, the wily Maratha is still struggling to make his mark on the national scene. Despite being the leader of the opposition in the just dissolved 12th Lok Sabha and holding the defence portfolio for some time in the Narasimha Rao government, Pawar, who even contested for the Prime Ministership against the former, is still considered only as a leader of Maharashtra.
Hailing from Baramati in Pune district, Pawar is the protege of veteran Congress leader from Maharashtra, late Y.B.Chavan. He was initiated into the state cabinet in 1972 at a very young age and held various important portfolios for over six years.

Later, he was also to be the youngest chief minister of Maharashtra when he resigned from the cabinet after engineering a split in the then Congress (U) in 1978. His group forged alliance with some opposition parties to form the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) which then came to power under his leadership. He headed the government for nearly one and half years till it was dismissed by the central government in 1980.

Since then, although he has been in the opposition for six long years, the politics of Maharashtra has always centered around him. He rejoined the Congress fold in 1987 and became chief minister in June 1988. He continued to head the government in Maharashtra till 1995, except for a brief period from June 1991 to March 1993 when he was defence minister at the Center. The party lost the elections under his leadership in 1995.

During his second term as chief minister, his image took a battering as he faced accusations of underworld links, not only from the opposition but even by his successor, Sudhakar Naik. He also faced severe attack from a civic official and social worker, who had launched a crusade for clean public life.

To his credit, it must be said that he is a man with good insight. Pawar understands and foresees likely changes in the economy, industry and agro market. As such he was the first politician in India to introduce the concept of privatisation in government projects in his budget when he was chief minister in 1989. He was severely criticised for the same then, but proved to be right later. After a brief stint as leader of the opposition in the state legislative council following his party's defeat in 1995 polls, Pawar contested the Lok sabha poll and became leader of opposition in Lok Sabha.
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