A day after the dramatic resignation of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, the NCP Legislature Party passed a resolution requesting him to take back his resignation.
“The legislators have also sought time with our chief Sharad Pawar to discuss the matter and request him to influence Ajit Pawar to take back his resignation. There will be no further discussion until Mr. Sharad Pawar has made a decision,” said NCP State president Madhukar Pichad. He was speaking to reporters after the meeting at Vidhan Bhavan, attended by nearly 90 per cent of the NCP’s legislators and Ministers on Wednesday.
“In the wake of the passing away of senior NCP leader and the former Speaker, Babasaheb Kupekar, two resolutions were passed — condolence for Mr. Kupekar and a proposal requesting Mr. Pawar to withdraw his resignation. No other political discussion took place on this sombre occasion,” said Mr. Pichad, adding that the future of the Deputy Chief Minister’s post was not discussed.
Mr. Pawar’s resignation came suddenly after allegations of massive irregularities in irrigation projects in Vidarbha during his stint as State Water Resources Minister surfaced in sections of the media.
Mr. Sharad Pawar will be meeting his party legislators on Friday on his return from Kolkata, where he reiterated on Wednesday that the NCP would not destabilise the State government and that his party was not indulging in pressure tactics.
While equations between the coalition allies continue to remain fluid, the Congress has decided to follow a ‘wait-and-watch’ policy, with senior leaders pointing to trouble raging within the NCP fold.
“While the issue of pending irrigation projects in Vidarbha is very serious, it is not the main reason why this event [Mr. Pawar’s resignation] suddenly transpired,” a senior Congress Minister told The-Hindu.
“The ball is in the NCP’s court… we are content with merely watching the events unfold from the sidelines,” said the Minister, adding the storm would soon blow over.
While the real reason behind Mr. Ajit Pawar’s resignation continued to be unclear, Congress leaders pointed to issues such as control over co-operative banks in the State and the growing ascendancy of Supriya Sule, Mr. Sharad Pawar’s daughter.
Sources said the fact that Mr. Ajit Pawar had skipped the two meetings on financially distressed District Co-operative Banks last week, one in the State and the other in New Delhi, was an indicator that all was not well within the party. “A power struggle is brewing within the NCP as the 2014 Assembly elections approach, with the younger Pawar unhappy at the chaffing under his uncle’s thumb,” said a senior Congress Minister.
Earlier in the day, an informal meeting of senior Congress leaders took place at Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s residence ‘Varsha.’ Those present included State Congress President Manikrao Thakre, Harshavardhan Patil, Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ajit Pawar’s resignation sparked tension in several parts of the State. NCP workers burnt effigies of the Chief Minister in Yavatmal and raised slogans against him in Satara. A two-hour bandh was observed in the NCP stronghold of Baramati.
“I have directed that strict action be taken if such incidents occur again,” said Mr. Pichad.
Pavan Dahat from Nagpur adds:
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) staged protest on Wednesday here, appealing Ajit Pawar who had resigned as Maharashtra Deputy CM on Tuesday, to take back his resignation.
Around 200 NCP workers led by NCP Nagpur Chief Ajay Patil staged protest, sporting black bands on their arms. They shouted slogans of “Ajit Dada Jindbad, NCP Jindabad” and “Maharashtra CM Murdabad”.
NCP workers also burnt the effigy of Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavhan at Ravi Nagar square here.
Mr. Ajay Patil said, “We welcome the spirit of Ajit Dada, but without him the development of the state would be hampered. He is a very efficient administrator and cleared files without keeping them for long time. We appeal him to take back his resignation for the development of Maharashtra”.
Shouting slogans against Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavhan and the Congress party, some NCP member said, “This CM is inefficient. He sits on the files and Ajitdada is being targeted because he boosted the development of the state by taking quick decisions”.