Maharashtra politics: Kin and party kept up pressure on Ajit Pawar

Back in the camp: Ajit Pawar supporters celebrating as Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar met in a hotel.   | Photo Credit: Aadesh Choudhari

Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar kept the dialogue going with Ajit Pawar by making party leaders visit him, and with emotional appeals by family members and insulating party MLAs from horse-trading, the uncle got the nephew to resign as Deputy Chief Minister, leading to the fall of the four-day-old Devendra Fadnavis government.

Also read: Ajit Pawar’s move resembles uncle Sharad Pawar’s political coup 41 years ago

Despite his rebellion and swearing-in on Saturday, Mr. Ajit Pawar was neither thrown out of the party nor was State unit president Jayant Patil appointed the full-time legislature party leader.

The party MLAs met on Saturday evening and passed a resolution sacking Mr. Ajit Pawar as the legislature party leader, but transferred the responsibilities of the post to Mr. Patil only temporarily.

The NCP president had issued orders to his deputies such as Mr. Patil, Praful Patel, Dilip Walse-Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Tatkare, and Hasan Mushreef not to lose contact with Mr. Ajit Pawar and to continue dialogue irrespective of political developments or statements of BJP leaders. All leaders continued meeting Mr. Ajit Pawar either at his residence or at his brother’s home. Not sacking him from the party also sent a message that the NCP was ready to accept him back, irrespective of his alliance with the BJP.

Relentless effort

Even after he tweeted thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leaders on Sunday, the NCP leaders continued meeting him. “Those meetings lasted three to four hours. The increasing duration of the meetings was a clear indication that he was rethinking his decision,” said an NCP leader, who was part of the process.

He, however, refused to divulge details of the conversations.

On the other hand, his cousin and NCP MP Supriya Sule made an emotional appeal asking Mr. Ajit Pawar to return to the party mainstream.

Keeping up the pressure, his nephew and NCP MLA Rohit Pawar appealed to him on a social media post not to split the family.

On Monday night, Mr. Sharad Pawar’s wife, Pratibha Pawar, spoke to him asking him to give up his rebellion. On Tuesday morning, NCP leader Praful Patel and Ms. Sule’s husband, Sadanand Sule, met him at a south Mumbai hotel.

On Monday evening, Jitendra Awhad masterminded a “We all 162” programme which showed the unity of MLAs from all three parties and left very little scope for anyone including Mr. Pawar.

Increasingly isolated

Among the many things that led to his resignation was the realisation that he was left with the support of barely one MLA out of 54. “Sharad Pawarji ensured that all MLAs are brought under one roof. Sena and NCP leaders were given the responsibility to safeguard them,” the leader said.

The Supreme Court verdict ordering a floor test by 5 p.m. on Wednesday turned out to be the final blow after which Mr. Ajit Pawar realised that his rebellion has failed and he submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who too put in his papers.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 7:17:43 PM |

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