Amid banners projecting Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and current Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar as the “future Chief Minister of Maharashtra,” NCP State president Jayant Patil on April 30 remarked that “nearly everyone had accepted that the next CM of State would be from his party”.
Speaking in Karad (in Satara district), Mr. Patil said that it was “satisfying” to note that the next CM in the State would be from the NCP.
“At present, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the NCP are getting huge support from people across the State. The satisfaction is that the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra will be from the NCP. This is now accepted by almost everyone. That’s how fast our party is moving forward… I am confident that under the leadership of [NCP chief] Sharad Pawar, the NCP will emerge as the largest party in the State in the future,” said Mr. Patil, a seven-term MLA from Islampur Assembly constituency in Sangli.
Predictably, Mr. Patil’s remark has sparked consternation among his MVA partners – the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) and the Congress.
Downplaying the NCP State president’s remark, Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut said leaders often made such statements in a bid to galvanise party workers.
“In our respective speeches, we often speak like that… He [Mr. Patil] will speak in this vein during his party meeting while [Maharashtra Congress chief ] Nana Patole will speak in a similar fashion during a meeting of Congress workers. We [Sena UBT] will do the same during our meeting … But the question of who will become CM will be decided jointly by the three MVA parties,” Mr. Raut said.
Mr. Patole said that the party which secured the seats (in the 2024 Maharashtra Assembly election) would stake claim for the CM’s post.
“But all this is in the future…the Congress is not worrying about such things at this juncture. We must concentrate on first winning elections,” Mr. Patole said.
Earlier this week, amid the buzz of Mr. Ajit Pawar joining the ruling Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena-BJP dispensation, posters hailing the NCP leader as the ‘future CM of Maharashtra’ had sprung up in parts of the State.
Despite Mr. Ajit Pawar himself firmly repudiating speculation of his joining the BJP-Shinde alliance, banners, replete with catchy taglines proclaiming him as ‘a future CM’ had sprung up in Nagpur — the bastion of BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis — and Dharashiv (formerly Osmanabad) among other places.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar dismissed the issue of the banners, hinting that they were the handiwork of the more overzealous elements of the NCP.
However, banners were seen in Maval (in Pune district) on Sunday as well during Mr. Ajit Pawar’s tour of the district.