In nephew's presence, Sharad Pawar hands over Supriya Sule, Praful Patel NCP's big role
Sharad Pawar made the announcement in the presence of Ajit Pawar, his nephew and a key player in the NCP.
Sharad Pawar on Saturday announced Supriya Sule and Praful Patel as working presidents of the Nationalist Congress Party or NCP. Pawar made the announcement at the 25th anniversary of the party, founded by him and PA Sangma in 1999.
The announcement was made in the presence of Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar's nephew and a key player in the NCP.
"Praful Patel will shoulder the responsibility of the working president of the Nationalist Congress Party. Supriya Sule will also be the working president of the party," Pawar said in the presence of senior leaders.
Ajit Pawar, who had joined hands with the BJP in 2019 and was sworn-in as deputy chief minister in an early morning swearing-in ceremony with Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister, appeared visibly upset with the announcement and left the party office here without interacting with the media.
An elated Patel said he was surprised by Pawar's announcement and would continue to work for the party.
"I have been working alongside Pawar saheb since 1999. So, this is nothing new for me. Of course, I am happy at being elevated as Working President. I will continue to work to increase the footprint of the party," Patel said.
Pawar also made Patel party in-charge of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Goa, and Rajya Sabha.
Sule will be in charge of NCP affairs in Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, and issues related to women, youth, students and the Lok Sabha.
"I am grateful to NCP President Hon. Pawar Saheb and all the Senior Leaders, party colleagues, party workers and well wishers of @NCPSpeaks for bestowing this huge responsibility of Working President along with Hon. @praful_patel Bhai.
"To my fellow members of the party, because of whom we have come this far,I will work diligently along with all of you to further strengthen the NCP and we collectively will serve the nation for the larger good of our fellow citizens," Sule said in a tweet.
By making Sule in-charge of Maharashtra, Pawar had effectively made Ajit Pawar report to her on party matters, a move that could lead to unease in the party.
Pawar had last month offered to resign from the presidency of the party which was followed by fervent remonstrations from the party members as well as other political leaders.
An NCP panel formed to deliberate on Pawar's offer had on May 5 rejected his resignation and urged him to continue as the party president.
Why Supriya Sule?
Supriya Sule's ascent in the party in recent years has been viewed as a father grooming his daughter for significant responsibilities. As part of the party's brass, she is involved in major decisions.
She keeps a hectic travel calendar across multiple districts in short spans and attends all the programmes. She censures the central government and the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis-led state government.
When Pawar offered to resign from the presidency of the party last month, Sule was a picture of calm, amid a sea of emotions expressed by party leaders, who requested the NCP supremo to reconsider his decision.
Sule was introduced to active politics with her election as Rajya Sabha MP in September 2006. Later in 2009, she took over the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency, represented by Pawar until then. She has also formed Rashtravadi Yuvati Congress, a wing of young women, to connect with the youth and build a network across the state.
Pawar has groomed many young leaders, including his daughter and Ajit Pawar and state NCP chief Jayant Patil – they are now the party’s frontline leaders. But, it is not clear who will assume the mantle of the leader.
(With inputs from Faisal Malik in Mumbai)