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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Dual task for NCP chief: To keep party and family united

cities Updated: Sep 29, 2019 01:17 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik

Mumbai: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is going through tough times. After mass exodus of senior leaders and legislators, party supremo Sharad Pawar seems to be struggling to keep the family united. His name in the Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank scam case and Ajit Pawar’s resignation has come at a time when he was trying to bring the organisation in order by holding a state-wide tour in the run up to the Assembly elections.

The last few months are being considered as the most difficult times for the NCP, since its formation two decades ago in 1999. Within five years of losing power in the state, the party has lost several prominent faces, including a few Pawar loyalists. In the last three months, the party lost nine out of its 41 sitting MLAs and one sitting Member of Parliament (MP), Udayanraje Bhonsle.

This led the 79-year old Pawar to steer the party and boost the morale of the cadre for the state Assembly elections, scheduled on October 21. He declared a state-wide tour and chose a set of districts, affected by defections, in the first phase. “The morale of the party cadre was really low because of party’s loss in the Lok Sabha elections and the defections. But the NCP chief’s tour started motivating them and one can observe this with the response he was getting. But the latest crisis could affect the momentum,” said a NCP functionary.

There were speculations that Ajit was unhappy and there was a rift between him and Pawar. The timing chosen by him, too, was seen as an indication that all is not well in the family. “He [Ajit] chose not to be with Pawar saheb on Friday when party workers from across the state were trying to reach Mumbai in his support. His resignation came on the day when all the headlines were about Pawar,” the leader said.

Pawar, however, tried to turn it into an emotional issue and a family matter, and said on Thursday that Ajit resigned as he was upset because his name had been dragged in the MSC Bank case.

On Friday, however, it appeared that things have been sorted out after a meeting at Pawar’s house where Pawar, Ajit, his brother Shrinivas and the NCP chief’s daughter, Supriya Sule, were present. After the meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, Pawar told the media that there was no reason to worry. Ajit also said that he was upset and hurt and thus resigned without discussing it with anyone.

“Pawar is leading the Opposition in the state and at 79, he is touring Maharashtra. But his house is not in order, especially when it comes to Ajit. Pawar, however, once again proved his disaster management skills of turning a negative situation into a positive atmosphere,” said political analyst Abhay Deshpande. “This is the third time Ajit reacted in such a manner; first time in 2004 when he resigned for deputy chief minister position against Chhagan Bhujbal; in 2012, when he was at the centre of the alleged irrigation scam, and now in 2019. But, that he never crossed his line, is also a fact,” he added.

Recently, there were hints of a tussle between Pawar and Ajit when the NCP chief ticked out the announcement made by the nephew over using saffron flags by the party. Earlier, the family had witnessed a tussle with Ajit proposing Parth’s name as party’s candidate from Maval constituency during the Lok Sabha elections. Pawar was not in favour of Parth contesting the polls and announced that he was withdrawing from the electoral fray as he did not want three persons from the same family contesting the elections. Eventually, Parth lost the elections..

First Published: Sep 29, 2019 01:17 IST

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