A day after an impromptu meeting of the breakaway group of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar with the party chief Sharad Pawar on July 16, the party’s legislators in the government paid a second visit to the NCP supremo at Mumbai’s Y.B. Chavan Centre on July 17.
During the meeting, Mr. Ajit Pawar and Rajya Sabha MP Praful Patel urged the patriarch to ensure the party stayed united under his leadership.
“In today’s [Monday’s] meeting with Sharad Saheb, we again asked him to ensure that the NCP stays united. Although he attentively listened to us, like yesterday, even today, he refrained from offering a reaction,” Mr. Patel said following a half-hour meeting with Pawar Senior.
Those MLAs (of the Ajit Pawar faction) who could not meet Mr. Sharad Pawar during the meeting held on Sunday were present on this occasion, he said.
“After learning that Pawar Saheb was heading to Chavan Centre, we immediately rushed here from Assembly to meet him. Since some of the MLAs couldn’t attend the meeting yesterday as they were in their respective constituencies due to Sunday, they came to meet him today under the leadership of Ajit Pawar. We came here to have the darshan of Pawar Saheb and seek his blessings,” the former Union Minister said.
To attend NDA meet
Mr. Patel said that he and Mr. Ajit Pawar would attend the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) meeting in Delhi on Tuesday.
Speaking to The Hindu, a senior leader from Mr. Sharad Pawar’s camp said the top leader was not aware of his nephew and other legislators’ visit to the Chavan Centre to meet him.
“He was on his way to the Chavan Centre when Mr. Ajit Pawar and other MLAs came. He was not expecting them today. It was a surprise visit,” he said.
He said that Pawar Junior and Mr. Patel reportedly discussed with Mr. Sharad Pawar the disqualification petition filed by the latter’s camp against nine rebel MLAs, who are now ministers in the Eknath Shinde Cabinet. “They are requesting Pawar Saheb to join the NDA,” the leader said.
Following the surprise visit of the splinter group legislators, NCP State President Jayant Patil, a staunch loyalist of Pawar Senior, who was at his residence after having met with Governor Ramesh Bais, hurried to the Chavan Centre.
“I was informed about their arrival and asked to reach the Chavan Centre without delay. Pawar Saheb told me that he would only meet them in my presence. During the meeting, the MLAs sought Pawar Saheb’s guidance, asking him to show them a way forward,” he said.
Though Mr. Sharad Pawar skipped the Opposition parties’ meeting held in Bengaluru on Monday, he would join the meeting on Tuesday. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and Maharashtra’s former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has left for Bengaluru on Monday evening to attend the meeting on Tuesday.