The NCP ministers in the Maharashtra Cabinet have handed over their resignation letters to party chief Sharad Pawar indicating a major reshuffle on the cards ahead of the polls.
Pawar seeking the resignation letters is the culmination of his renewed interest in party affairs since 2009 when his nephew Ajit Pawar challenged his might and almost arm-twisted to snatch the post of deputy chief minister from Chhagan Bhujbal. The NCP has 15 Cabinet ministers and 5 junior ministers. This move comes in the wake of Pawar’s recent warning to NCP leaders that they have to improve their performances or else they would be shown the door. However, the fallout of this move may not be just restricted to the NCP as developments are afoot in the Congress too.
According to sources in the NCP, Pawar was keen to change the ministers, including some seniors such as PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Ajit Pawar aide Sunil Tatkare who is now heading the irrigation department. “If Pawar would have changed or removed senior faces from the Cabinet then the move would have resulted in stiff resistance and also possible ugly face-off which would have been not advisable, particularly ahead of the polls. By seeking the resignation of all ministers Pawar played a masterstroke silencing everybody in the party,” said a senior NCP leader. Pawar is keen to increase the party’s tally in the Lok Sabha and in the past had spoke about suggestions from party workers on fielding state ministers for Parliamentary polls.
In the 2009 LS polls, the NCP had managed to win nine seats and now hopes to take the tally to 15.
By seeking the resignations of all his ministers Pawar would be more at ease in allocating Lok Sabha and Assembly seats. He would also be able to introduce new faces in the Cabinet, a move which his nephew Ajit and other senior leaders would have resisted under normal circumstances. According to party sources, Pawar also envisages to make changes in the party organisation.