Maharashtra political crisis | Majority of NCP lawmakers, leaders favoured tie-up with BJP and wanted to join Maharashtra govt., says Praful Patel

He said he decided to go with the “majority view” within the NCP

July 04, 2023 11:20 am | Updated 07:54 pm IST - New Delhi

NCP chief Sharad Pawar has expelled Praful Patel from his post as the working president of the party. File

NCP chief Sharad Pawar has expelled Praful Patel from his post as the working president of the party. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Once considered the closest aide of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founder Sharad Pawar, party leader Praful Patel said he decided to go with the “majority view” within the NCP.

Speaking to The Hindu over phone on Tuesday, Mr. Patel claimed that majority of the NCP lawmakers and leaders had favoured a tie-up with the BJP a year ago.

“When the Shiv Sena-Eknath Shinde [Chief Minister] split happened last year, nearly all NCP MLAs had written a letter to party president Sharad Pawar to say that we should join the government. So, it has been brewing since then and it’s not something that happened yesterday,” said the leader who served as Minister for Heavy Industries and Civil Aviation during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

Also Read | Post-Ajit Pawar’s rebellion, president Sharad Pawar stages massive show of strength in Satara

Commenting on the tit-for-tat action against leaders of opposite camps in the fight to establish themselves as the “real” NCP, Mr. Patel said such things were bound to happen before things settled down. “There are appropriate fora like the Assembly Speaker and the Election Commission to decide these things. Let’s leave it at that,” he said

The leader of the breakaway NCP faction played down reports that he would be inducted as a Cabinet Minister at the Centre and claimed that the focus had been Maharashtra so far. “There has been no talk on this at all,” he said.

ED cases

Responding to the Opposition’s charge that all the NCP leaders, including him, had joined hands with the BJP to avoid the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in various corruption cases, he said, “First of all, I don’t have any case against me. There is no ECIR (Enforcement Case Information Report) against me, so the charge is wrong”.

“Also, what kind of argument is this that when one is in Opposition then the cases are false but when one changes political affiliation, the same case becomes genuine,” Mr. Patel asked.

Also Read | BJP’s induction of Ajit Pawar and NCP faction leaves future of Shinde camp in a limbo 

When pointed out that he had attended the Patna meet of Opposition leaders just 10 days ago, he said, “Yes, I did attend the meeting but all I can say is that it was not at all inspiring”.

Mr. Patel said the Opposition parties did not have much in common other than the aim to defeat the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha election and none was willing to accept the leadership of the other. “In 2004, there were 64 Left MPs in addition to the Congress numbers and that gave stability to the the UPA. In 2009, the Congress got more than 200 seats on their own. That situation doesn’t exist today,” he added.

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