Party will take a call, not any individual, says Ajit Pawar
He remained ambivalent about whether he will join BJP and also did not mention if the NCP will remain a part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
MUMBAI: Amid reports of Ajit Pawar joining hands with the BJP, the NCP leader said on Tuesday that whatever decision is taken, it will be in consonance with his party leadership, and not by an individual.
Ajit Pawar met his party MLAs at Vidhan Bhavan, followed by a press conference. He alleged that there was a deliberate attempt to malign his image and divert attention from the main issues.
However, he remained ambivalent about whether he will join BJP. He also did not mention if the NCP will remain a part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi. He said the MLAs came to Mumbai for their work, so they met him. “I had not called any special meeting, but the media is giving more importance to everything that is related to me. At Nagpur’s MVA rally, Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat did not speak, but the media highlighted only me,” he said.
“TV channels deployed the cameras in front of my bungalow and even entered inside. This should be stopped,” Pawar said. Without mentioning Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s name, he said others should not be discussing his party. “They are free to write about their party in their party mouthpiece not about our internal issues. They should not try to be the advocate of our party. I will raise this in the MVA meeting,” Pawar said.
Raut in his Saamna column on Sunday wrote that NCP chief Sharad Pawar shared that his party MLAs are pressured to join hands with the BJP in ‘season-II’ of party breaking in Maharashtra. Ajit Pawar said as long as he is alive, he will remain with his party. “Shall I write this on an affidavit?” he asked.
He said people should not test his patience. “I have not taken the signatures of his MLAs. We are together and are not going away,” Pawar said. Sharad Pawar in an interview with Marathi channel said that “if some individual wants to leave the party, then that will be an individual’s decision, not that of the party.” However, in a contradiction, Ajit said no individual would take a decision, and that only the party will take a call.
These developments come against the backdrop of a plea seeking disqualification of 16 MLAs of the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena that is pending before the Supreme Court. Sources say the numbers in the assembly are heavily in favour of the Shinde-BJP government, but for the 2024 elections, if Ajit, along with other NCP leaders, join the ranks, it could be a clean sweep for the NDA as Maharashtra brings 48 seats, the second highest number Lok Sabha, after UP.
Sources said NCP talks with the BJP are still on. “Media reports will force them to halt the process, but they will resume soon,” said a source. “The reason is the BJP desperately needs the third partner ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The NCP chief is buying time for more negotiations with the BJP. Pawar wants to do things on his terms,” said a source.