Supriya Sule, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP and daughter of Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, spoke to HT about the ongoing political crisis in the state. Sule refuted reports of any rift in the party over leadership issues.
Did Ajit Pawar speak to you before he handed over his resignation?
Of course, he did. The entire family knew about it. My sister-in-law, my father and I were aware that he would announce this decision in the press conference on Tuesday. It was a personal choice and perhaps an emotional decision. He was fed up with the kind of campaign that was targetting him on television channels.
Isn't there a rift within the party on how to handle the issue? It has divided the NCP into groups with one group insisting on a hardline stand, such as supporting government from outside.
No. There is no rift within the party. Other than one MLA leading a group of independents, no one has said that party will support government from outside. And even if sentiments like these have been expressed, or resignations have been tendered by ministers, they are emotional reactions to dada's (Ajit Pawar's) decision. It's a natural reaction of his supporters. But, we will continue to be in the government as (Sharad) Pawar has reiterated since then.
There is speculation that you are being groomed to play a bigger leadership role in the state and this is also one of the reasons behind the rift in the party. Please comment.
That is just rubbish. I have no interest in playing a larger role in the state. And that is not being discussed in the party. How can I be my brother's rival? He doesn't want to become Baramati's MP and I don't want to be the deputy chief minister. Let's not kid ourselves. I don't have any experience in government and we have several senior leaders here. I am busy with the NCP's youth wing for women and I am touring the state, but all of us are preparing for 2014 polls.
Will your party project Ajit Pawar as the chief ministerial candidate for 2014 polls?
That's a decision that my party's top brass will take. But, personally, if my party emerges as the largest in the polls and Ajit dada becomes the chief minister tomorrow, I will be thrilled. And why not? He deserves it.
In political circles there is also a sense that Ajit Pawar's move is not going to pay off. This could be the beginning of the end of his career.
I would only tell political pundits to wait and watch. Have some patience and stop speculations. As a party, we have full faith in him and we stand by him. No one wanted or asked him to step down. He took a decision and he did what he felt was right.