Sharad Pawar brushing aside nephew Ajit’s ambition?
MUMBAI: NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s recent statement that it was not a mistake to have offered the chief minister’s post to the Congress is being seen as a move to reassert his sway over the NCP and cut nephew Ajit Pawar down to size.
Reports of tensions between the two, over the rise of Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, have persisted despite attempts by Ajit and Sule to brush them away as rumours. The feud is reminiscent of the row between Raj and Uddhav that led to the former leaving the Shiv Sena in 2006 and starting the MNS.
Pawar’s statement was clearly aimed at Ajit, who said in an interview with TOI early this month that it was a mistake to have offered the CM’s post to the Congress after the 2004 polls. Ajit had also revealed his ambitions for the top post, which probably spurred the NCP chief to openly contradict him.
“It’s a fact that in the 2004 assembly polls, NCP had more seats than the Congress. Despite such a situation, the NCP had given the CM’s post to the Congress. It was not a mistake, but it was a policy decision of the party,” Sharad Pawar had said.
According to a senior NCP leader, there was indeed a dispute within the NCP over offering the top post to the Congress in 2004. Besides Ajit, three senior NCP leaders, including public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal, were gunning for the post at that time. The NCP wriggled out of the situation then by offering the CM’s post to the Congress and securing key portfolios and more cabinet berths in return. Pawar also came down heavily on Pune-based NCP leader Vasant Wani for his statements on seat-sharing in the 2014 assembly polls. Wani had said that the NCP will stake claim to 145 seats out of 288 in the polls. Pawar clarified that no such decision has been taken. “The NCP leader concerned has been warned. We will not contest the 2014 assembly polls independently. We are keen on an alliance with the Congress,” Pawar said.
The NCP chief also used the occasion to take a dig at the Thackeray cousins. “I read that Raj and Uddhav are on the tour of Maharashtra and both have claimed that they will form the government on their own. Under such circumstances, I wonder as to the number of chief minister’s Maharashtra will have at a time,” he said.