The process of churning in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seems to be gathering steam.
Ajit Pawar, NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew and a minister with Maharashtra cabinet, has been left out of the NCP’s working committee, even as the party made history on Tuesday by bringing two father-daughter pairs — Pawar and Supriya Sule and P.A Sangma and Agatha Sangma— on the panel.
Sule’s inclusion lent credence to reports that she was being groomed to take over the party. Ajit’s omission has raised speculation of a possible battle in the post-Pawar scenario.
Spokesman D.P Tripathi had a tough time trying to explain Ajit’s omission. “He has never been in the working committee. He has not been marginalised. Not everyone from Maharashtra can be included. There was only one vacancy and we decided to fill it with a woman,” he said while overlooking the absence of a woman as a general secretary or secretary in the list of 23 officebearers.
Privately, party leaders offered a more charitable explanation. Sule, they said, would focus on national politics and Ajit on Maharahstra. “You can draw your own conclusions. Right now there is no such issue in our party,” Tripathi said to queries whether Sule’s elevation meant that she was Pawar’s political heir.
He also refused to entertain queries whether sulking SP leader Amar Singh was going to drop anchor in the NCP. “The SP is a friendly party. Both Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav are our friends. We do not want to get involved in this controversy …’’ Tripathi said. He, however, admitted having been in touch with Singh.
Tripathi also defended Pawar, facing flak for rising prices and his remark that he was not an astrologer to predict when prices would decrease. “He was quoted out of context,” he claimed.