Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday dismissed suggestions that the appointment of his daughter Supriya Sule as the working president of the party has upset his nephew Ajit Pawar, asserting he himself had mooted the proposal.
"The suggestion was made by him (Ajit Pawar). So, where is the question of him being happy or unhappy," Pawar told reporters in New Delhi to questions on the Maharashtra Leader of Opposition being upset about Sule's elevation.
The veteran leader announced earlier in the day three-term Lok Sabha member Sule and Praful Patel will be the working presidents of the NCP.
Ajit Pawar was seen as an heir-apparent in the NCP, but his dalliances with the Bharatiya Janata Party, including an early morning swearing-in as Maharashtra deputy chief minister along with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in 2019, had not been received well by the party.
"There is no vacancy now. We can talk about it when there is a vacancy," Pawar quipped when asked if Patel or Sule could become NCP chief in the future.
Sule was also appointed the chairperson of the party's Central Election Authority as well as the in-charge of Maharashtra, the only state where the NCP has a formidable electoral presence, ushering in a generational shift in the party.
The BJP was quick to take a dig at the announcement made by the NCP chief.
"If only Sharad Pawar loved his nephew as much as Mamata Banerjee loves hers…," BJP Information Technology Department in-charge Amit Malviya said on Twitter.
Pawar also said elevating Patel and Sule was a "conscious" decision taken by the entire party.
"This is a conscious decision by the entire party and not me alone. If I had to make a decision, why would I have waited all these years," the NCP supremo shot back when asked about the allegations of nepotism.
Pawar said there was "not even one per cent truth" in reports of Ajit Pawar being upset with the decision.
"Jayant Patil is already the president of Maharashtra unit of NCP, Ajit Pawar is the Leader of Opposition in the assembly. Praful Patel and Supriya Sule did not have any such responsibility in the party and were ready to devote time for the party," Pawar said.
He said senior party leaders had made suggestions to the effect and the proposal was under discussion within the party for the past one month and he had only made the announcement on Saturday.
Pawar said Sule being a Lok Sabha member has to work in Delhi and has been given responsibility of adjoining states of Haryana and Punjab, besides Maharashtra.
Similarly, Patel has personal contacts in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh -- states that are closer to Gondiya, his home town, Pawar said.