Maharashtra political crisis | Those who betrayed my ideology have no right to use my photo: Sharad Pawar

Ahead of rival NCP meets on Wednesday, Sharad Pawar faction expresses confidence 44 MLAs will stay loyal; rebels display Pawar senior’s photo despite his objections, claiming he is “forever in their hearts”

Updated - July 05, 2023 07:47 am IST

Published - July 04, 2023 08:47 pm IST - PUNE

Both Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar groups of NCP supporters at party office, in Nashik, on July 4, 2023.

Both Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar groups of NCP supporters at party office, in Nashik, on July 4, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Sharpening his attack on his nephew Ajit Pawar and his rebel faction of the Nationalist Congress Party, NCP president Sharad Pawar on July 4 said that those who had “betrayed” his ideology had no right to use his photograph.

Mr. Sharad Pawar’s stern directive came ahead of the trial of strength of the rival NCP factions on Wednesday, when both uncle and nephew will be holding meetings of NCP party members in Mumbai to ascertain the strength of their respective camps.

Also read | NCP split may impact national efforts in Opposition unity

‘Betrayal’

“Those who betrayed my ideology and with whom I have ideological differences cannot use my photograph…Only the party of which I am the national president and Jayant Patil the State president can use my photograph,” said the NCP patriarch.

Notwithstanding his uncle’s injunction, Mr. Ajit Pawar — who was sworn in as the new Deputy Chief Minister in the Eknath Shinde-BJP government on Sunday — inaugurated the new NCP party office in Mumbai along with fellow rebel leaders Praful Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal near the Mantrayala (State Secretariat) on Tuesday.

Not only was Mr. Sharad Pawar’s photo prominently displayed on the flex boards but a framed picture was kept in the new party office as well, with the MLAs and leaders of the Ajit Pawar faction stating that Pawar senior would remain forever in their hearts and minds.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. File.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. File. | Photo Credit: ANI

‘Now your opponent’

Admonishing the rebel group led by Mr. Ajit Pawar for continuing to use Mr. Sharad Pawar’s photo, NCP leader and senior Pawar loyalist Jitendra Awhad remarked that the rebels had no qualms about violating the principles for which the NCP chief stood.

“You [Ajit Pawar camp] have no compunction about using Sharad Pawar’s photo. Yet, you all have betrayed the ideology of Shahu-Phule-Ambedkar [Rajarshi Shahu-Jyotirao Phule-Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar] for which Pawar saaheb stands, by allying with communal forces… Be warned that Mr. Pawar is now your opponent,” Mr. Awhad said.

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

Vying for 44 MLAs

Expressing confidence that most of the 53 NCP legislators were with Mr. Sharad Pawar, NCP State chief Jayant Patil said that many wanted to come to the meeting called by Mr. Pawar on July 5.

“The meeting is at Y.B. Chavan Centre. There, one will realise the tremendous support that Mr. Pawar has. Most MLAs want to come to the meeting. We are still in touch with them. Some, however, appear to have taken a neutral stance,” Mr. Patil said.

He remarked that, while proceedings had been initiated against the nine NCP MLAs who have taken oath to join the State government as Ministers, the remaining 44 were sure to stand firm behind Mr. Sharad Pawar.

“I appeal that no one ought to put pressure or entice the remaining 44 NCP MLAs in any manner and that they be given them an opportunity to work under Sharad Pawar’s leadership,” Mr. Patil said.

State tour soon

He said that the senior Pawar would be commencing his Statewide tour by visiting Nashik, Beed, Ahmednagar, Pune and Solapur districts very soon.

“Be it rain or shine, Mr. Pawar will set out. His visit to Karad and the overwhelming enthusiasm of his supporters has shown the kind of support he enjoys,” Mr. Patil said.

Meanwhile, the NCP’s allies in the Opposition coalition – the Congress and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) – expressed their solidarity with Mr. Sharad Pawar, saying that their Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) stood intact despite the current turbulence within the NCP.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut met with Mr. Sharad Pawar, as did Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole.

‘MVA united’

After their meeting, Mr. Raut said: “We discussed a number of things... We stand united under the MVA banner. Be it Rahul Gandhi, Uddhav Thackeray or Sharad Pawar, all leaders are in constant communication with each other. Everyone is of the opinion that BJP’s politics are taking the country towards dictatorship. The BJP is the most corrupt party in the country today. This government is standing on two illicit splinter factions of the Shiv Sena and NCP.”

Likening the BJP’s modus operandi as being akin to that of a “serial killer”, Mr. Raut said that the brain behind urging a splinter group to stake claim on the party’s name and symbol was always that of the BJP brass in Delhi.

“Their [the BJP’s] modus operandi is akin to that of a serial killer’s…break a party and make the splinter group to stake claim on the party name and symbol. The BJP has tried to destroy Bal Thackeray’s and Sharad Pawar’s parties. But the Sena [UBT] have won the legal battle.”

Congress watching situation

Meanwhile, the Congress held a meeting attended by all its top State leaders including Maharashtra in-charge H.K. Patil. Condemning the BJP’s politics, Mr. Patole said that the Congress was keeping an eye on the current political situation in the State.

“The NCP is holding two separate meetings on July 5, after which we will discuss the MVA’s future strategy in consultation with Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar,” he said.

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