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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Ajit Pawar resigns again, what next for NCP?

mumbai Updated: Sep 28, 2019 00:36 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustantimes
         

Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and party chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit has a penchant for sudden resignations.

Seven years ago, on September 25, Ajit, then the deputy chief minister, abruptly resigned from his post in the Congress-NCP government. Then the resignation came at the height of the irrigation scam, when the allegations of graft and wrongdoing against him were flying thick and fast.

Unlike this resignation where he went incommunicado, Ajit had then kept his uncle Sharad Pawar in the loop. The ensuing drama, at the time, was aimed at hitting back at then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who was seen to be targeting the Pawars and NCP.

Within two months, however, Ajit was back in the saddle as the deputy CM, after a white paper on irrigation prepared by his own government, gave him a clean chit. The resignation had then achieved little, besides drama. This resignation too seems to be little more than optics for now. There is less than a month to go for the polls and Ajit has little to lose by resigning as a legislator. However, it has ensured that NCP and the Pawars grab eyeballs and headlines until this drama gets resolved. This kind of attention is welcome ahead of polls.

That is if one goes with the NCP chief’s explainer that his nephew’s resignation came from a place of hurt and not a family rift. “I think he has been very uneasy since my name got dragged into this MSC bank inquiry because I have never been a member or a director in any of the banks. I have not spoken to him. But, he has spoken to his son. He told his son that the level of current politics is too low and he finds it unbearable that my name has been dragged in this inquiry. It’s better than we do farming instead of this, he’s learnt to have told his son,” said Pawar, as he addressed the media in Pune.

The NCP chief also reiterated there was no rift in the family. “There are no differences in my family. As the head of the family, everyone listens to me. My word is final. I am going to look into this because he did not tell me about his plans,” Pawar added.

Despite Pawar’s clarifications, there have been on and off reports of differences within the Pawar family and between the uncle and nephew. In the recent past, giving Lok Sabha ticket to Ajit Pawar’s son, Parth, was seen as something that Sharad Pawar did not agree with, but had to concede. Parth’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls was also seen to have put Ajit Pawar on the backfoot within the party. There has also been a buzz about Pawar favouring his other grandnephew, Rohit, in the recent years. Rohit, will be contesting on party ticket from Karjat Jamkhed assembly.

As recent as last week, Pawar had snapped at his nephew indirectly by pointing out that Ajit’s decision that the NCP should carry saffron flags was only his personal opinion and not the party’s.

“Although Ajit Pawar has been seen as Pawar’s political heir in Maharashtra, the latter has never got a free run in the party. NCP’s other senior rung leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal or Vijaysinh Mohite Patil did not get along with Ajit, who was seen as brash and arrogant. Sharad Pawar has always tried to keep that balance,” said a senior NCP leader, who did not want to named.

After, Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule entered politics in 2009, speculations that she is Pawar’s political heir also gained ground, but she has always denied it. Sule’s appearance on the NCP’s dais became more and more prominent after the party suffered damage due to the irrigation scam in which Ajit was at the centre of the allegations. The scam tarnished the NCP’s reputation and it is still struggling to get its credibility back, especially among farmers who form the support base for the party.

“The way Ajit has resigned he is definitely indicating that he is upset, especially because he has not kept his uncle in the loop. He is temperamental, but at this stage, it is unlikely that he will split the party. It’s also as unlikely that he will quit from politics and do farming,” the NCP leader added.

A top state BJP leader told HT that there “was no way” his party would take Ajit Pawar or that the latter would join it.

First Published: Sep 28, 2019 00:36 IST

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