NCP supremo Sharad Pawar remembering Bal Thackeray remarked that the late Shiv Sena patron had always been supportive. The appreciation towards Thackeray came following Pawar's claim that many ministers in the Shiv Sena-led coalition government in Maharashtra do not belong to political families and have earned their position purely on merit. The NCP chief Sharad Pawar made the statement on Sunday night in Kalwa area of Thane district while felicitating local MLA and Cabinet minister Jitendra Awhad.
On the occasion, Pawar praised Awhad for doing "wonderful" work in his Kalwa-Mumbra constituency. During his speech, Sharad Pawar also hailed late Yeshwantrao Chavan, the first chief minister of Maharashtra, for grooming him in politics.
Political contemporaries--Sharad Pawar and Bal Thackeray have a history of sharing a love-hate relationship. Launching their political careers a year apart, in 1966, Thackeray founded Shiv Sena and Pawar won his first assembly elections in 1967 on a Congress ticket in Baramati. Apart from discussing politics, the two political bigwigs were known to discuss sports, culture and art. It is known, that while Thackeray had a stronghold over Mumbai, on the contrary, the rest of Maharashtra was Pawar's fortress. In 2006, the Shiv Sena patron had extended his support to Pawar's daughter, Supriya Sule, as she contested the Rajya Sabha elections. Sena did not field a party candidate against Sule. "She’s like my daughter. When I heard of her foray into politics, I called up Pawar and told him there would be no candidate against her," Thackeray had said.
Prior to CM Uddhav Thackeray's swearing-in, on November 28, Sule had mentioned that Bal Thackeray and his wife treated her with love and affection "more than a daughter" would get, and that she has missed them a lot. In 2006, the then Sena president Bal Thackeray did not field a party candidate when Pawar named Sule as the NCP's candidate for a Rajya Sabha seat.
It is known that Bal Thackeray in person always referred to Sharad Pawar as 'Sharad Babu', however during political speeches, called him a 'maidyacha pota' (sack of flour). Keeping apart their political and personal equations, arguably, the two biggest political families of Maharashtra dined together and were known to visit each others homes whenever time permitted. Sharad Pawar had played a significant role in getting Shiv Sena to back Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil for President under the UPA era. However, political relations between them became bitter after Chhagan Bhujbal defected from Sena to Congress.