Twice in two days, Ajit Pawar & Co. meet Sharad Pawar, seeks to keep NCP ‘intact’text_fields
Mumbai: After parting ways with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar a couple of weeks ago, the splinter group led by Ajit Pawar had a second meeting with the party's patriarch on Monday seeking his support in keeping the party ‘intact’.
In a surprise move, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar made an impromptu visit to Sharad Pawar's residence on Monday afternoon.
He was accompanied by more than two dozen MLAs from his faction, along with the faction's Working President, Praful Patel. The group convened at the Y. B. Chavan Centre in Nariman Point to meet Sharad Pawar.
Initially, Pawar had a separate meeting with Patel and Ajit Pawar, and later he also met with the over two dozen MLAs who had switched sides to join Ajit Pawar's faction since July 1.
Emerging from the meeting, Patel later told media persons that many of the MLAs who were unable to meet Sharad Pawar on Sunday clamoured to go and seek his "blessings".
“We sought Pawar Saheb’s blessings and spoke with him… We have requested him to consider measures to keep the NCP united… He gave us a very patient hearing but did not commit anything,” he said.
This comment was near-identical to his statements made after the Sunday meeting that had sent political circles into a tizzy.
Pressed for Pawar’s possible response, Patel threw up his hand to declare that “we have taken his ‘ashirwaad’ and presented our views… how can I tell you right now what’s going on in his mind”.
Incidentally, Sharad Pawar was expected to be in Bengaluru for the two-day National Opposition parties’ conclave, but he postponed his departure till Tuesday morning.
Patel’s claims apart on the second meeting in two days with a similar request to Pawar Sr., speculation was rife in political circles that it may be linked with the notices of disqualification served by the NCP on Ajit Pawar and his team of ministers who took oath on July 2.
From the Sharad Pawar side, present were state NCP President Jayant Patil, National General Secretary Dr. Jitendra Awhad and other senior leaders.
Monday’s meeting came a day after Ajit Pawar, along with his ministerial team and other leaders, paid a walk-in call to Sharad Pawar on Sunday afternoon.
After the Sunday meeting, Patel told media persons that they had gone “to seek Sharad Pawar’s blessings and also make unity efforts for the splintered NCP”, but the octogenarian leader remained non-committal.
Senior Congress leader Yashomati Thakur frowned at “such meetings” while other party leaders said that these are creating confusion not only among the NCP cadres, but also in the state political circles.
NCP national spokesperson Clyde Crasto said this was “another failed attempt” by the Ajit Pawar group to show the people of Maharashtra that they could pacify Sharad Pawar.
“It will not make any difference because a lot of water has flown under the bridge of trust… What this group (Ajit Pawar) has done cannot be rectified now,” he said.
Ajit Pawar held his third meeting in four days with Sharad Pawar and NCP Working President Supriya Sule at Sharad Pawar's residence. However, on July 14, Ajit Pawar made an unplanned visit to his ailing aunt Pratibha Sharad Pawar, stating that ‘politics is separate, family always come first’.
Interestingly, this meeting on July 14 marked the first interaction between Ajit Pawar and the 83-year-old Sharad Pawar after Ajit Pawar and his supporters caused a political upheaval by abandoning the NCP.
Ajit Pawar had publicly made an absurd suggestion to retire as an NCP member and joined the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition as the second Deputy Chief Minister, along with 9 ministers, on July 2.
With inputs from agencies