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'Supriya Sule main reason for Ajit Pawar's rebellion'

Last updated on: July 05, 2023 14:00 IST
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'The cousins do not have a good rapport with each other in politics, though they may be having a good rapport with each other in family life.'

IMAGE: Cousins Supriya Sule, who turned 54 on June 30, and Ajit Pawar, who will turn 64 on July 22. Photograph: ANI Photo

Ajit Pawar's decision to part ways with his political mentor and uncle Sharad Pawar and join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena and join the Maharashtra government as deputy chief minister for the fourth time has surprised many.

By doing so, Ajit Pawar has agreed to play third fiddle, after Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

No one joins politics to play a tertiary role after having been deputy chief minister three times.

Even more surprising was the list of other Nationalist Congress Party leaders with him -- Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Tatkare, Dilip Walse Patil and Praful Patel, all of who were deemed close associates of Sharad Pawar.

So what is going on in Maharashtra politics?

What is Ajit Pawar's game? What is the BJP planning? Where does Ajit Pawar's entry leave the Shiv Sena MLAs who broke off with the parent organisation along with Eknath Shinde?

Syed Firdaus Ashraf spoke to political analyst Ravikiran Deshmukh for an insight into what is happening in the state.


Why did Ajit Pawar go ahead with his rebellion now, after having backed out in 2019? Why did he feel this was the right time?

He is angling for the chief minister's post. He has already served as deputy chief minister in the past on three different occasions.

He is ambitious and has a good rapport with NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) workers. He understands Maharashtra very well and he has handled almost all important portfolios in the state cabinet in the past, except revenue or the home department.

In 2019, Ajit Pawar was invited by the BJP to take oath as deputy chief minister and it happened because the BJP had issues with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena.

He also claimed he had the blessings of his party chief and uncle Sharad Pawar then, but for some reasons that move fizzled out. The 2019 experiment of his could not work.

Later, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government came to power with Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister and he again became deputy chief minister, but in those two-and-a-half years of MVA rule Ajit Pawar was not very happy because from the very beginning he had issues with the Congress party.

He did not gel with then Congress chief minister Prithviraj Chavan too and had resigned from his post in 2012. He was out of the cabinet for two to three months.

There is a history to it because he was not happy with the alliance with the Congress since 1999. He was very much keen that the NCP should grow on its own strength as an independent party.

He felt the NCP had the potential to grow alone in Maharashtra, but Sharad Pawar never gave the go-ahead as he did not want to break up with the Congress party.

Sharad Pawar did not want to disturb the alliance because, due to the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government from 2004-2014, he was a part of the central ministry.

Ajit Pawar in this period was concentrating on and working for the party in Maharashtra and felt that the NCP had a very good chance to grow in the state and he never understood why his uncle Sharad Pawar wanted to remain loyal to the Congress.

And it is only now that he has decided to come out in the open and break away with the NCP by claiming his is the real NCP.

And I think the reason is his cousin Supriya Sule, who happens to be Sharad Pawar's daughter.

Do you mean that Supriya Sule was the reason for Ajit Pawar to rebel against his uncle, as he was sidelined in the recent party reorganisation?

He was insisting on Sharad Pawar's resignation. He alone was telling all his party men that when Sharad Pawar wants to resign, he should be allowed to do that.

A section of leaders within the party at that time, like Jayant Patil and Jitendra Awhad, got wind that Ajit Pawar had different plans for the NCP. They then insisted with the party workers that Sharad Pawar must not resign and continue in his post and lead the party.

Ajit Pawar could not see himself exercising his clout then.

Can we say Supriya Sule is the main reason for Ajit Pawar's rebellion?

Yes, Supriya Sule is the main reason for Ajit Pawar;s rebellion.

The cousins do not have a good rapport with each other in politics, though they may be having a good rapport with each other in family life.

Many families break away due to politics and we have seen in Maharashtra that how Dhananjay Munde quit the BJP to join the NCP as he was sidelined by his cousin Pankaja Munde, Gopinath Munde's daughter.

Ajit Pawar was having issues with Supriya Sule and even today (July 3), when Praful Patel and Ajit Pawar announced a new party chief for Maharashtra, they announced Sunil Tatkare's name and they announced Anil Bhaidas Patil as the party's chief whip. And they categorically stated that they consider Sharad Pawar as their party chief.

Now if they are saying this, it means they are happy with Pawar Senior. So what is the issue in splitting?

The issue, I think, is Supriya Sule as her name is missing from the list of leaders from Ajit Pawar's team.

On the contrary, Supriya has written to Sharad Pawar that the NCP should take action against Praful Patel and Sunil Tatkare in Parliament as they have violated party norms and discipline. She also said that the NCP must file a petition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to disqualify these two leaders from its membership.

Will Ajit Pawar get 35-plus MLAs from the NCP as news reports are suggesting?

I have certain doubts, but in politics you cannot presume anything at this moment.

If Ajit Pawar had the list of 35 MLAs he would have announced them on Sunday (July 2). He did not share that and even now he is not sharing the MLAs list.

He is just claiming that he has got 37 MLAs, but who are these MLAs? Why are they not coming out in the open and speaking out against Supriya Sule or the old NCP?

All of them are watching the developments and maintaining a safe distance.

There is a history in Maharashtra that whoever becomes deputy chief minister never goes on to become the chief minister. Can Ajit Pawar break that jinx?

There is speculation that Ajit Pawar has come into this alliance with the BJP on the promise of getting the chief minister's post. He has had enough of his political career serving as deputy chief minister, so this post is nothing new to him. We have two deputy chief ministers now.

In other circumstances he would have never accepted to be third in command after Eknath Shinde as chief minister and Devendra Fadnavis as senior deputy chief minister. He is now number three in position.

He is not the kind of person to be in the third position and therefore I think there is something more to his move.

I am observing this development since Sunday and till now portfolios have not been announced. There is something very unusual happening. There is something going behind the curtains as even Eknath Shinde has not come forward on the issue of portfolio allocation.

Devendra Fadnavis has also not spoken to the media since Sunday; he has gone quiet. He was talking to the media just before the swearing-in, but now has gone silent.

You must have also seen that there is no tweet from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah congratulating Ajit Pawar on joining the cabinet.

Both of them had congratulated him in 2019 when he joined hands with the BJP. They did it within a few minutes then. And now not a single word is coming from them.

In normal circumstances, BJP leaders are always ahead in congratulating on such developments. All the leaders are quiet on social media.

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