Sharad Pawar’s nephew, Ajit Pawar, who resigned as Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister on Tuesday might just have shot himself in the foot.
For, behind the show of solidarity by all NCP ministers who submitted their resignations to their state president, Madhurkarrao Pichad, after Ajit sent his own papers to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, is a growing resentment and anger at having been forced into this corner by his unilateral decision to quit the government.
These NCP ministers are pleased that Pawar Sr has rejected their resignations and believe that Ajit should have consulted them before his action rather than spring such an unpleasant surprise on the entire party and government. Many NCP ministers have been similarly accused of corruption and they are the angriest.
More than the war between the Congress and the NCP or between various NCP factions or even within the Pawar family, Ajit is attempting to escape having to answer the personal charges of corruption during his term as Maharashtra’s irrigation minister.
“But resigning from his posts will not help him escape that responsibility. He will sooner or later have to answer those charges whether in government or outside it,’’ a senior Congress leader told HT.
Ajit, it is widely known, disobeyed Pawar’s directives and tried to build his own base among NCP workers, independent of his uncle after realising that Supriya Sule, his cousin and Pawar’s daughter, could be the NCP president’s preferred choice as heir apparent.
Ever since, he has been shoring up his resources and hoping to split the NCP with support from either the Shiv Sena-BJP combine or even the Congress on the condition that he would be chief minister, with little response from either grouping.
A top Congress functionary said Ajit would find whatever support he seems to have gathered among NCP ministers dissipating as soon as Pawar Sr drops anchor in Mumbai and sets things right with the Congress. As a top NCP minister told HT, “You can take it from me in writing that the government is not falling. We are all returning to Mantralaya next week, after our meeting with Pawar saheb this weekend.’’Pawar has been trying to cut his recalcitrant nephew down to size for months but fears of a split have kept him from taking any overt action against one of his own. This time, Ajit might just have played into the hands of the master of that particular game. And the disunity in the Pawar clan could be the single factor that once again works to the Congress’s advantage.