I do not believe Ajit Pawar will leave NCP and go in another direction: Sanjay Raut

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut was responding to questions on reports of Ajit Pawar being allegedly disgruntled with the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and planning to join the ruling BJP-Eknath Shinde Government soon

April 17, 2023 12:34 pm | Updated 04:40 pm IST - Pune

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut. File

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut. File | Photo Credit: ANI

With speculation about Maharashtra Leader of Opposition and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar joining the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) refusing to abate, Mr. Pawar’s ally, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut on April 17 said he did not think Mr. Pawar would ever leave the NCP.

“I do not believe Ajit Pawar will leave the NCP and go off in some other direction,” said Mr. Raut, speaking to reporters in Mumbai.

He was responding to questions on reports of Mr. Pawar being allegedly disgruntled with the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and planning to join the ruling BJP-Eknath Shinde Government soon.

Mr. Raut reiterated NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s assurance to his party leader Uddhav Thackeray during their meeting last week that the NCP would never leave the Opposition MVA alliance despite pressure being applied by the BJP to break Mr. Pawar’s party.

“At the meeting with Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Pawar had certainly spoken of pressure and threats being applied by Central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate [ED], the Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] and the police machinery to split the NCP in the manner of the Shiv Sena. But Mr. Pawar had said that while some people may leave the party owing to this pressure, that would be their individual decision. The NCP president has clearly said that the NCP as a party will never leave the MVA alliance. I had written the same in the Saamana as well,” said the Uddhav camp spokesperson.

Commenting on the rumours surrounding Mr. Ajit Pawar’s ‘imminent’ departure from the MVA, Mr. Raut pointed out that the NCP leader [who is Sharad Pawar’s nephew] was very much present at the MVA rally in Nagpur on April 16.

“We had a good conversation with Mr. Ajit Pawar. We returned back [to Mumbai] by the same flight. I do not at all think he will leave the NCP and venture off in another direction,” Mr. Raut said.

Mr. Raut further said that as Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Ajit Pawar had taken a tough stance when required.

“Relations between the Sena (UBT) and Ajit Pawar are excellent. Uddhav Thackeray and Mr. Pawar together visited those affected by heat stroke during the Maharashtra Bhushan awards programme on Sunday,” he said.

11 die of heat stroke

At least 11 persons reportedly died of a heat stroke while attending the Maharashtra Bhushan Award ceremony at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai where social activist Dattatreya Narayan alias Appasaheb Dharmadhikari was given the award by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the presence of CM Shinde, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and other dignitaries.

Mr. Raut criticised the Shinde-Fadnavis Government for “catering only to VIPs for the award ceremony” and not making adequate provisions for lakhs of commoners who were sitting in the scorching heat for hours for the event.

“The tragedy might have been averted had the programme been held in the evening. Instead, the event was tailored to suit Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s convenience. Provisioning for lakhs of Appasaheb Dharmadhikari’s [who was presented the award by Amit Shah] followers was woefully inadequate,” alleged Mr. Raut.

Ajit Pawar cancels programme

Meanwhile, despite the Sena (UBT) leader’s firm assertion about Mr. Ajit Pawar, the latter cancelled an agricultural programme slated for April 17 at Saswad in Pune district, raising eyebrows. Instead, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his daughter, Baramati MP Supriya Sule will be attending the programme in Mr. Ajit Pawar’s lieu.

Sources said that Mr. Ajit Pawar may have cancelled his programme owing to late return to Mumbai on April 16 from Nagpur after participating in the MVA’s rally there.

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