Did not get opportunity to lead party as I am not Sharad Pawar’s son: Ajit Pawar

On his uncle’s statement that discussions were held with the BJP, Ajit Pawar said he is at least admitting to such negotiations and added he was witness to the talks

Updated - May 09, 2024 10:40 pm IST

Published - May 09, 2024 02:34 pm IST - Pune

File picture of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar

File picture of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar | Photo Credit: PTI

While he still regarded his uncle, Nationalist Congress Party (SP) chief Sharad Pawar, as a “deity”, rebel NCP leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday nevertheless expressed his disappointment against the NCP patriarch by remarking that he did not get the opportunity to head the party just because he was not Mr. Sharad Pawar’s son.

Mr. Ajit Pawar made these remarks during a public address in the Shirur Lok Sabha constituency, which will vote in the fourth phase on May 13.

“Pawar saaheb is our daivat [deity] and there is no doubt about it, but every person has his time. After crossing 80, new people should be given opportunities. I have also crossed the age of 60. Do we get a chance or not? Had I been his son, I would have been given a chance. But since I am not, there was no chance,” Mr. Ajit Pawar said in a thinly veiled jibe at his cousin Supriya Sule, who is Mr. Sharad Pawar’s daughter.

ALSO READ |Sharad Pawar forced to halt campaigning after punishing schedule takes toll

Earlier on Tuesday, the Pawar clan bastion of Baramati Lok Sabha (which went to polls in phase 3) had witnessed an emotionally charged electoral contest that saw Ajit Pawar’s wife, Sunetra Pawar (the ruling Mahayuti’s candidate), rattling sabres against her sister-in-law Ms. Sule, the Opposition MVA’s candidate and incumbent Baramati MP.

The tussle between uncle and nephew is now being played out in Shirur in Pune district, where Mr. Pawar’s loyalist Dr. Amol Kolhe, the incumbent MP is pitted against former Shirur MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil, the Mahayuti’s candidate who is from the Ajit Pawar-led NCP faction.

In his address, Mr. Ajit Pawar, in an attempt to dial down the verbal bitterness between the rival NCP camps during the heat of the Baramati campaign, reiterated how he was compelled to take the decision to move out of the NCP founded by Mr. Sharad Pawar and align his splinter NCP faction with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and CM Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena.

Mr. Ajit Pawar further said that for more than 30 years he had unquestioningly obeyed every order given by his uncle – whether be it walking out of the Congress over Sonia Gandhi’s foreign citizenship issue, waiving off the NCP’s claim to the CM’s post in 2004 (despite the NCP winning more seats than the Congress in that Assembly election), or joining hands with Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena in 2019, or holding parleys with the BJP.

“People say that it was Sharad Pawar who made his nephew everything that he is by giving him a chance [in politics]. But by that measure, it was Yashwantrao Chavan who had given Pawar saaheb a chance,” Mr. Ajit Pawar said.

Maharashtra’s first CM Y.B. Chavan was Mr. Sharad Pawar’s political mentor and had done much to groom him within the Congress.

Justifying his capacity for quality work and his grip over administration, Mr. Ajit Pawar said he had worked hard in Pune district and had brought the district cooperative bank under his party’s control.

“I got the Pune Zilla Parishad under our [undivided NCP’s] control. Pimpri-Chinchwad (in Pune district) was never in our control, but from 1992 till 2017, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation was brought under the NCP’s control. We changed the face of the township,” he said, urging people to come and see the development he had done in Baramati.

Later, speaking to reporters, Mr. Ajit Pawar said that his uncle was now at least admitting that parleys had been held about the NCP allying with the BJP even before 2019.

Mr. Sharad Pawar had said that while talks had been held with the BJP, there had been no decision on the NCP joining the ideologically opposed saffron party.

“If you did not want to go, then why were discussions held? If you did not want to go with the BJP, why six meetings were held in Delhi with the senior leaders of the BJP?” Ajit Pawar said, adding that he and senior NCP leader Praful Patel had been witness to those meetings as was BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.

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