In Sharad Pawar, the Congress and Rahul Gandhi not only have a great ally, but also a good mentor and guide; if only they heed and are keen to pick cues and learn.
In the recent times, there have been two instances when Mr Pawar, an astute politician with connections with all parties and almost no enemies, with extreme dexterity in the old fashioned understanding of politics as both the art of compromise and the art of the possible, has chided or disagreed strongly with the Congress party’s point of view on a crucial issue, publicly.
As an ally, Mr Pawar-led NCP has stood by the Congress in thick and thin with little or no great demands, save minimum respect as a partner and private discussions before taking public stances that could impact them as a party in the alliance.
The two issues — one, can as a secular party, the Congress make the fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP as so ideological as to go on a sustained rampage against an icon like Veer Savarkar, who has a huge respect with certain sections of people, and strongly so in Maharashtra. Mr Gandhi is almost uncompromising in making his fight ideological but ideology is not a luxury for an alliance, much less a broad-based alliance needed to fight BJP.
The second issue was Adani, now a seeming obsession with Mr Gandhi, who is convinced his redux on corruption against Mr Modi can and will create a public wave of anger and help Congress electorally. Mr Pawar perhaps knows better and understands that a middle path is better when it comes to taking up politics-business nexus, especially in national elections, where a single issue like this may not work either with the public, or even potential allies.
It would be in the interest of the Congress to pay more heed to its current partners and make efforts to add newer ones, and ideological fixation or a single-issue agenda may be counter-productive.