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I am not saying that he is our leader: Sharad Pawar takes a U-turn after saying that Ajit Pawar is still an NCP leader

Earlier Sharad Pawar had supported Suorita Sule's comment saying that there is no split in NCP and Ajit Pawar is still the party leader

Sharad Pawar, the president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has reversed his earlier claim today that there is no split in NCP and his nephew and the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar still has the status of NCP leader. He stated, “I am not saying that he is our leader. It is okay for Supriya to say that. She is his younger sister. There is no need to draw political meaning out of it,” hours after his earlier statement.

The party’s working president Supriya Sule responded to a question about the status of her cousin on 24 August and said that he is a “senior leader and MLA of the party.” Afterwards, the controversy regarding the latter’s position inside the party surfaced.

Veteran leader Sharad Pawar was questioned about the aforementioned remark of his daughter to which he replied, “Yes, there is no question about it,” while talking to the media in his hometown of Baramati in Pune, Maharashtra. His comments led to a major political storm after which he issued the clarification in Satara, a few hours later. He voiced, “Supriya said it in the context that Ajit Pawar is her brother.”

He further continued that he had already given the junior Pawar one chance in 2019 and would not offer him another opportunity. Interestingly, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in as the chief minister and deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, respectively, in an early morning oath-taking ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in 2019.

The shocking political development confounded earlier predictions that Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) chairman Uddhav Thackeray would hold the former position. However, the partnership disintegrated soon enough and the Maha Vikas Aghadi eventually assumed power in the state.

He mentioned, “You must remember that once he took oath late at night. One of our colleagues was with him. That time we took a decision to take action. But later they explained that they were at fault and would not repeat it. So we gave them an opportunity. But now it is clear that no one can ask for another opportunity and we should not give that opportunity to him,” while referring to the incident.

However, the seasoned politician insisted that there wasn’t a division inside the party. He claimed that while some leaders did leave the organisation and adopted “different political stand,” it was not a schism. The Lok Sabha MP from Baramati also conveyed that she is not opposed to any specific individuals, only their policies and stance.

She noted, “We are in opposition in the state and the Centre also. Nine MLAs and two MPs have taken different decisions which are completely opposite to our thought process. So, as a party, we have asked them to clarify it. We have written a letter to the Vidhan Sabha speaker and the Lok Sabha speaker and stated that we do not support their decision. We are transparent about it. And we have been saying this since the first day.”

She added, “Maharashtra has accepted the leadership of Ajit Pawar. We accepted the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee as well as Narayan Dyandeo Patil. So, whoever is good for the people, we embrace them.”

The Pawar family’s utterances are sending mixed messages, according to the party’s alliance partners Congress and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT). “Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule and Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar would be able to answer better,” noted leader of the opposition in assembly Vijay Wadettiwar who is from Congress.

Leader of the opposition in council Ambadas Danve of the Shiv Sena (UBT) observed, “In the rank and files, it is sending confusing signals.” Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut proclaimed that the NCP had split and there were two factions. “If there is no split, then who is Tatkare, who has been appointed by the breakaway faction as its state unit chief,” he asked and added, “The breakaway group has also removed Sharad Pawar as the national president of the party.”

Notably, 26 factions of opposition parties who have named their group as I.N.D.I.A. are scheduled to have a meeting in Mumbai on 31 August and Sharad Pawar is one of the senior leaders of the political alliance.

Ajit Pawar and other significant NCP MLAs and leaders including Praful Patel, Chaggan Bhujbal, Hasan Mushrif and Dhananjay Munde among others joined Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party alliance on 2 July which is at present running the government in the state. Notably, over 30 lawmakers sided with the junior Pawar’s move to be a part of the state administration.

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