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Talk of berth in Modi cabinet bid to project Supriya Sule as NCP face?

In his column in the Sena mouthpiece Samana on Sunday, MP Sanjay Raut had quoted Pawar as telling him about meeting Modi and discussing the offer.

mumbai Updated: Sep 12, 2017 01:03 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Supriya Sule,Nationalist Congress Party
NCP leader Supriya Sule(Hindustan Times)

Reports that NCP MP Supriya Sule turned down PM Narendra Modi’s offer to join the NDA as a minister have sparked speculation that she is being projected as the new face of the party her father, Sharad Pawar, founded.

The buzz in political circles in Maharashtra is that Sule could be asked to take up the responsibility as most of the first-rung leaders of the party are facing serious corruption charges.

In his column in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana on Sunday, that party’s MP Sanjay Raut had quoted Pawar as telling him about meeting Modi and discussing the offer. Raut claimed that Sule, who was also present at the meeting, said she would be the last person to go with the BJP.Sule has rubbished Raut’s claim. “There has been no such meeting where I met Mr Modi with Mr Pawar,” said Sule.

The timing of Raut’s comments is crucial as the message was meant to convey that Sule is in charge, say NCP leaders. “Raut is close to the NCP chief and it is not possible for him to disclose such sensitive information without Pawar’s permission, which is also part of a private discussion between them,” said a key NCP leader, who spoke on condition he would not be named.

Political commentator Prakash Bal said Pawar has been trying to put Sule at the helm. “Pawar wants Sule to be the face of the NCP and Ajit Pawar to take administrative responsibility,” Bal told HT.

NCP sources claimed they had got an offer from the BJP but that the leadership was not keen on joining the NDA fold. “The party chief was not keen on joining NDA. Also, Sule was against it. She was the first person to refute rumours of the NCP joining NDA when speculation was rife,” said a senior party leader.

Sources said Sule’s quote used in Raut’s article was enough to clear all speculation that they are joining the NDA. But NCP leaders said the revelation about the offer also means the leadership is trying to achieve more. “It is a clear message to all those thinking about joining the BJP that the NCP is still relevant when it comes to power. Thus, there is no point in switching sides. Further, the party needs a face like Sule,” sources said.

The speculation assumes significance considering the charges NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare are facing in the irrigation scam. Another party senior, Chhagan Bhujbal, is in jail over allegations of corruption.

First Published: Sep 11, 2017 12:22 IST