Rebel camp meets Sharad Pawar, seeks unity in NCPtext_fields
Pune: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, along with several loyalist MLAs who recently rebelled against his uncle and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) patriarch Sharad Pawar to join the BJP-led government in Maharashtra, paid a surprise visit to the senior leader.
Praful Patel, a long-time confidante of Sharad Pawar, spoke on behalf of the rebels as they emerged from the meeting, saying, "Today we met our God and our leader Sharad Pawar to take his blessings." He further explained that they had come without asking for an appointment after learning about Pawar's presence at the meeting location.
During the meeting, the rebels expressed their regret over the division within the party and appealed to Sharad Pawar to find a solution that would keep the party united. Praful Patel also stated that they respected Pawar greatly and urged him to carefully consider their request and assist them in the future. Pawar listened attentively but did not provide a response to their statements.
Jayant Patil, a member of Sharad Pawar's camp, confirmed that the rebels had expressed their regret and called for a resolution to the party's internal issue. He mentioned that a detailed discussion would take place with Sharad Pawar to address the matter and provide a clear response. Patil added that the rebels currently occupy a place in the opposition due to their non-support of the government in the Maharashtra Assembly.
Regarding the Leader of Opposition (LoP) issue, Patil clarified that the party with the highest number of MLAs in the opposition would hold the LoP position. He emphasised that Sharad Pawar's NCP is aligned with the Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress.
Ajit Pawar, after meeting with NCP leaders loyal to him, proceeded to meet Sharad Pawar at the YB Chavan Center. Jayant Patil, who was attending a meeting with opposition parties ahead of the monsoon session, was also called to the meeting by Supriya Sule.
The meeting marked the first interaction between Sharad Pawar and the group led by Ajit Pawar since the latter rebelled and joined the Eknath Shinde government. Ajit Pawar had previously visited Silver Oak, the official residence of Sharad Pawar, to meet his aunt Pratibha Pawar, who had recently been discharged from the hospital after undergoing surgery.
Ajit Pawar's close relationship with his aunt Pratibha was highlighted by her instrumental role in bringing him back to the NCP fold in 2019 after his short-lived alliance with Devendra Fadnavis. Pratibha Pawar, fondly known as 'kaki' among NCP leaders, is regarded as a matriarch figure within the party, despite not actively participating in politics.
The visit took place a day before the commencement of the monsoon session of the Maharashtra Assembly.