Discontent brewing in NCP as Ajit Pawar offers to step down as Leader of Opposition
Sources said that NCP leader Ajit Pawar and the party's state president Jayant Patil do not see eye to eye.
MUMBAI: In another sign that all is not well in the NCP and within the Pawar family, senior leader Ajit Pawar on Wednesday requested party chief Sharad Pawar to relieve him from the post of Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly.
Speaking at the NCP’s annual day celebration, Ajit Pawar offered to step down from his post and said, “I should be given a party post. I will do justice to any post in the party.”
Sources said that NCP leader Ajit Pawar and the party's state president Jayant Patil do not see eye to eye. "The NCP is divided into two groups – one headed by Jayant Patil and blessed by the top leadership of the party while another group is headed by Ajit Pawar. Jayant Patil has been NCP state president for the last five years. As per party norms, every three years, a new president is appointed, but Patil continues to stay in the post. Ajit Pawar is either eyeing the post or wants to appoint his close aide. However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar is yet to take a decision on it,” said a source requesting anonymity.
Another source in the NCP said that Sharad Pawar is not happy with Ajit Pawar and his performance as Leader of Opposition because of his understanding with ruling party leaders. “Ajit Pawar failed to corner Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. His proximity with Fadnavis became the talk of the town and the NCP was seen as a party close to the BJP. Sharad Pawar wants to change this perception because it can damage the party in the elections. Therefore, there is talk within the NCP that Ajit Pawar should be replaced with Jayant Patil. If Jayant Patil becomes the Leader of Opposition, then Ajit Pawar wants Patil's place so that he can play a major role in ticket distribution in the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections,” said a senior NCP leader who requested anonymity.
Interestingly, Ajit Pawar had earlier clarified that he was not interested in a party post when Supriya Sule was appointed as working president of the NCP. He added that he was happy with his work as Leader of Opposition.
“But on Wednesday, all of a sudden, Ajit Pawar offered his resignation as Leader of Opposition and wants to take a responsibility in the party. This is intriguing for party leaders and workers. However, the NCP chief will find a way out,” said the senior NCP leader.