Ajit Pawar claims NCP told the Election Commission on Wednesday that he was elected the head of the NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) and “removed” his uncle Sharad from the position of national president. He has the support of 32 MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly), while senior Pawar has the support of 18.
What lies ahead for Sharad Pawar and the Nationalist Congress Party?
This is the question everyone has been asking since his nephew Ajit, along with eight other MLAs, joined the Maharashtra government on Sunday as Deputy Chief Minister.
Now, with both factions claiming to be the ‘real NCP,’ let’s take a closer look at what Ajit is saying, Pawar’s actions, how the numbers stack up, and what lies ahead for the NCP founder:
What is Ajit’s faction saying?
According to NDTV, Ajit’s faction told the Election Commission that he was elected as the head of the NCP and “removed” his uncle from the position of national president.
The agency cited sources from the Election Commission stating that Ajit was elected on June 30 – days before being sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Ajit’s faction presented 40 affidavits from MLAs and MPs in support of their claim.
Despite the founder of the NCP requesting not to do so, Ajit’s faction has been using Pawar’s photograph.
Ajit asked Narwekar to disqualify the NCP’s state president, Jayant Patil, and the party whip, Jitendra Awhad, as MLAs.
How did Pawar’s faction respond?
Pawar’s faction appealed to the Election Commission to hear them before approving any order.
According to the newspaper, the Election Commission is expected to pronounce its verdict on the matter in a few days.
“There is no reason to worry. The party symbol is with us, it is not going anywhere. The people and party workers who brought us to power are with us,” Pawar said, as reported by the newspaper.
“NCP went with the BJP in Nagaland. The Northeast is on the border with China where political decisions need to be made with due care. Therefore, we support from outside. Look at the history of those who have joined the BJP in the country. Akali Dal lost everything. Andhra, Bihar, and many examples show that the BJP destroys allies everywhere. So, remember that nothing different will happen to you as well,” Pawar told Ajit.
“The Shiv Sena’s Hindutva is about bringing all castes together, while the BJP’s is divisive, manuvadi (orthodox) and venomous. The state recently witnessed communal riots. One who does divisive politics cannot be a patriot, and we cannot take the stance of joining them,” Pawar added.
According to The Print, Pawar’s faction requested the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, Rahul Narwekar, to disqualify nine rebel MLAs.
On Monday, Pawar removed the acting president of the party, Praful Patel, and Lok Sabha MP Sunil Tatkare from their positions for engaging in “anti-party” activities.
Tatkare’s daughter, Aditi, was among the ministers sworn in on Sunday.
Sharad Pawar, in a tweet, said, “As the national president of the Nationalist Congress Party, I order the removal of Shri Sunil Tatkare and Shri Praful Patel’s names from the NCP Party Membership Register for anti-party activities.”
He tagged Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP who was appointed NCP president last month, and Tatkare in his tweet.
How do the numbers add up?
Both factions of the NCP, which held separate meetings to demonstrate their strength in Mumbai, claimed to have the highest number of MLAs.
News18 reported that 32 out of the 54 MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were present at Ajit’s meeting, while 18 attended Sharad’s meeting.
However, NDTV reported that Ajit’s faction had 29 MLAs, while Pawar’s faction had 13 MLAs.
According to Anant Kalse, the former Principal Secretary of the Maharashtra Legislature, Ajit Pawar’s camp needs the support of at least 36 MLAs to avoid disqualification.
MLA Anil Patil stated that up to 40 out of the party’s 53 MLAs are with Ajit, a claim echoed by NCP rebel leader Chhagan Bhujbal.
Party sources informed PTI that 35 out of the 53 NCP MLAs were present at Ajit’s party meeting in Mumbai, and the number is expected to increase further.
Five out of the eight NCP MLCs (Members of Legislative Council) are also participating in the meeting held in the suburb of Bandra, they said.
Speaking at the Mumbai Education Trust Institute (MET) in Bandra on Wednesday afternoon, Bhujbal said, “We did all the diligence before taking the oath… We didn’t do it like that.”
Bhujbal also dismissed claims that the faction joined the government out of fear of legal action.
“That’s not correct. Dhananjay Munde, Dilip Walse Patil, and Ramraje Nimbalkar (among those sworn in) don’t have cases against them. There are several others who don’t have cases against them but are still here,” Bhujbal told The Print.
Bhujbal added that some of Pawar’s close aides were out to finish the party.
“We are ready to come back to you as soon as you leave them aside. We will come back to you then,” Bhujbal said.
Supporters of Ajit gathered outside his official residence, Devgiri, in South Mumbai before he left to attend the meeting in Bandra.
Also Read : Supermoon 2023 Is On Its Way
“We are staunch supporters of Dada (as Ajit Pawar is called). We have come from Baramati,” an NCP worker told the media outside Devgiri.
Pawar’s faction convened a parallel meeting at the Yashwantrao Chavan Center in South Mumbai.
The meeting was attended by the acting president of the NCP and Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule, and other senior leaders, including newly-elected party leader Jitendra Awhad, leader Anil Deshmukh, among others.
Outside Silver Oak, senior Pawar’s residence in South Mumbai, a party worker was seen carrying a banner that read, ’83-year-old warrior fighting alone.’
What lies ahead for the NCP founder?
An article in The Wire noted that nothing is straightforward when it comes to Pawar.
“With Sharad Pawar, there is never a straight line or an obvious explanation. He always has a few tricks up his sleeve – as early as 1978, he left the Congress and joined the Janata Party to become the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Since then, he has shown a tendency to play on all sides to try to maximize the results for his own gains,” the piece stated.
“And where does that leave Sharad Pawar? As an aging leader of a small party or the man who is still calling the shots in his home state behind the scenes?