The widow of Vasantdada Patil, who was bested 41 years ago in a cloak-and-dagger power struggle for the post of chief minister by a young Sharad Pawar, on Sunday claimed Ajit Pawar's volte face was poetic justice.
Ajit Pawar, in a dramatic turn of events early Saturday morning, walked into Raj Bhavan with a handful of Nationalist Congress Party MLAs and was sworn in as deputy to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, leaving Pawar senior defending his flock by sequestering them in a suburban hotel.
Speaking on the political developments precipitated by Ajit Pawar, Shalini Patil, widow of Vasantdada, said, "The way Sharad Pawar behaved with Vasantrao, he must have got a similar experience from his family when Ajit Pawar aligned with the BJP."
Ajit Pawar is nephew of the NCP supremo and there has been often talk of the party being in the midst of a familial power struggle also involving Baramati Lok Sabha MP and Pawar senior's daughter Supriya Sule.
Shalini Patil called Pawar's 1978 move to grab power an "act of betrayal and stabbing in the back".
Pawar could have told Vasantdada directly instead of breaking away clandestinely, she said.
Patil was expelled from the NCP in 2006 for her "anti-party stand" on the issue of social justice.
In the state assembly polls held in February 1978, the Congress (S) won 69 seats as against 65 of Congress (I). The Janta Party had won 99 seats. No party got a full majority.
The two Congress factions got together to form the government headed by Vasantdada Patil from Congress (S) with Nashikrao Tirpude from Congress (I) as the deputy chief minister.
As the government floundered amid daily bickering, Pawar walked out with 38 Congress MLAs to form a new government called Samantar Congress (Parallel Congress), becoming the youngest chief minister of the state at the age of 38.
The government lasted for less than two years.