Ajit Pawar resignation: Nephew emerges from uncle’s shadow


An internal war has been brewing within the NCP for a long time, and Ajit Pawar, nephew of party chief Sharad Pawar, who is being targeted for alleged large-scale corruption in irrigation projects, has struck now. The junior Pawar's decision to quit all ministerial posts is being seen by many as his coming of age in state politics.

In fact, the NCP chief himself was caught unawares when all other NCP ministers in the state government decided to follow Ajit Pawar's example and submitted their resignations to party chief Madhukar Pichad later in the evening. For the first time perhaps, Pawar sought to assert himself and said his "word is final" in the party's decisions. "No other NCP minister will resign from the government," he said, even after the resignations had been submitted.

The first indication of a rift between Ajit and Sharad Pawar showed two years ago when the NCP chief preferred Chhagan Bhujbal for the deputy chief minister's position. Ajit had then obtained the support of 60 of the 62 NCP MLAs. The two who stayed away were Chhagan Bhujbal and his MLA son. Ajit Pawar had his way.

Tensions in the party were simmering with insiders stating that Ajit Pawar resented his uncle for promoting his daughter Supriya Sule as his political heir. The junior Pawar has gradually established his political clout not just in Western Maharashtra but also in some Congress strongholds such as Konkan, where he brought Shiv Sena leader Bhaskar Jadhav into the NCP fold and gave Narayan Rane a scare. In fact, it is now more or less settled that Sule will handle the party's affairs in New Delhi whereas Ajit would strengthen the party in the state.

Many in the party say that he will be the choice for the chief minister's chair if the NCP gets the numbers in 2014. He has always been uspet about the fact that in 1999, when the NCP emerged the single largest party in Maharashtra, the chief minister's post was still taken by the Congress. He has never missed out on an opportunity to take a swipe at Prithviraj Chavan either. Even on Tuesday, without taking names, he said, "I do not keep files pending for months. It is necessary to take decisions on proposals early and that is my style for work. Therefore I do not agree with the allegations of hasty decisions being made against me."

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