‘Sharad Pawar asked me to join the govt’
Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, claimed that his uncle, Sharad Pawar, initially supported his decision to join the state government but later had a change of heart. Ajit Pawar also announced that his faction would contest all four Lok Sabha seats in Baramati currently held by the NCP.
Mumbai: Ajit Pawar claimed on Friday that his uncle and NCP founder Sharad Pawar was on board when he decided to join the Eknath Shinde-led government.
“During a family discussion, Sharad Pawar told me to join the government and said he would resign from the post of the party president. He even announced his resignation during a book release function on May 2. But later, he called (MLA) Jitendra Awhad and (former MP) Anand Paranjpe and directed them to gather some party workers and stage an agitation at the YB Chavan Centre demanding withdrawal of his resignation. If he did not want to resign, he should have told us. What was the need of all this,” Pawar said on the second day of the party’s two-day conclave held in Karjat in Raigad district.
He claimed that Sharad Pawar did a volte face on some later occasions as well.
“After we finally joined the state government on July 2, he called all the ministers who took oath to YB Chavan centre on July 17. We went there again the next day with all the MLAs who were supporting us, and his close aides said that ‘the train is on track’. So, we hoped that everything would be fine soon, and waited for his message, which never came,” said Ajit Pawar.
He said indications of a reconciliation surfaced again in August, when senior Pawar invited him and other rebel leaders for lunch. “I went for the lunch meeting on August 12 with Jayant Patil. But again, there was no further message. If he did not want to support us, why did he keep meeting and giving indications to the contrary. I will not allege that he cheated me but will definitely say that he always keeps me in the dark,” said the deputy chief minister.
He also announced that his faction would contest all four Lok Sabha seats in Baramati that were won by the undivided NCP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“During seat sharing talks, we will try to get those seats that are currently with the Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena but where NCP also has good strength. We all need to work very hard so that NDA can win maximum seats in the coming general elections,” said Ajit Pawar.
MLA Jitendra Awhad from the party’s Sharad Pawar faction hit back, saying Ajit Pawar was now the person who created him. “Ajit Pawar has not reached the level where he can criticise Sharad Pawar. We agitated to demand the withdrawal of Sharad Pawar’s resignation because we felt that he could not resign without consulting party workers. It was Ajit Pawar’s wish that Sharad Pawar resigns from the party chief’s post.” said Awhad.