As the meeting to elect NCP's legislature party leader got underway in Mumbai, supporters of NCP chief Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar in Baramati began bursting firecrackers, secure in the knowledge that their 'Dada' would be elected.
"We had brought in dhol tashe (musical instruments), gulal (vermilion) in satchels and pedhe (sweets) to celebrate the announcement, which we thought was a mere formality but the final outcome left us disillusioned," a supporter told PTI over phone.
"As the meeting ended and it became clear that our leader won't get that post, supporters got restless. We had to close the local party office to ensure anything untoward didn't happen as tempers had run high," the supporter said, adding "he had lost out on the opportunity three times. This time, we hoped the Deputy Chief Minister's post would be his."
"Ajit Pawar has tremendous grassroots support among party workers and emerged as choice to succeed Chhagan Bhujbal as deputy Chief Minister and we feel hurt after the party decided to retain Bhujbal in the post," the supporter said.
After the 2004 elections, there was an "overwhelming opinion among legislators in favour of Ajit Pawar as deputy Chief Minister but he opted out of the race, even going to the extent of forcing NCP MLAs not to propose his name," the supporter said.