Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar's move to resign in the wake of the irrigation scam has not only pulled the rug from under CM Prithviraj Chavan but also sent a clear signal to his uncle and party chief Sharad Pawar that he will call the shots in Maharashtra.
Political observers feel the move reflects a well thought-out strategy to get back at Chavan besides asserting his role in state politics.
Even as uncle Sharad Pawar and union minister Praful Patel made a statement saying NCP would not destabilise the state government, state ministers submitted their resignations to the state party chief Madhukar Pichad following a meeting at Ajit Pawar's official residence.
"Ajit has grown under his uncle's shadow but with this move he has displayed political acumen mastered over the last few years. For starters, he managed to get all NCP ministers including detractors to rally behind him. Even his uncle can't ignore that. It's a message that he can get the state government on its knees,'' said B Venkatesh Kumar, political scientist.
So far, even after Ajit took over as the deputy CM, he has had to deal with senior ministers like Chhagan Bhujbal, RR Patil, Jayant Patil, who are not his ardent supporters.
Party chief Sharad Pawar has kept his senior men in the cabinet to ensure that his nephew doesn't rule the roost. But, with all NCP ministers standing with Ajit, a clear message has gone to him.
In a way, Pawar seems to have conceded the right of way to his nephew for now, suggesting that there could be a decision between the two to keep Chavan on tenterhooks.
A senior NCP minister said all ministers rallied around Pawar to show solidarity as they agreed that Chavan has been targeting their party.
"We all felt that party's image is being tarnished and CM is targeting us, which will make it difficult for us to go before people for 2014 polls.''
Supriya Sule said: "Ajit dada heard his inner voice and submitted his resignation. He consulted the party chief. Why should anything more be read into it?"