It was not too long ago when NCP supremo Sharad pawar appointed senior leader Praful Patel as working president of the party. However, the former union minister dealt a serious blow to his boss as he lent his support to the rebellion in the party engineered by Ajit Pawar.
Patel a mastermind behind the 'coup'?
Praful Patel was present at the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai on Sunday when Ajit Pawar and other NCP leaders took oath as ministers in the Maharashtra government comprising of the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and the BJP.
It's being speculated that Praful Patel was responsible for striking a deal between Ajit Pawar and the BJP. He is also rumored to have been promised to get portfolio of a Union Minister in return of it, if reports are to be believed.
Sharad Pawar expresses his disappointment
Sharad Pawar, addressing a presser after the split in party, expressed his disappointment over Patel switching the sides. Pawar said Patel should himself take action against this rebellion or he will be forced to act against him and others who have defied the party's stand.
"I had appointed Praful Patel as working president of the party. I want to clarify that the decision he has made, are not in the best interest of the party. He did not fulfill his responsibilities and therefore, I have lost confidence in his leadership. As a result, he has been instructed to take action himself, or else I will have to take appropriate measures," Pawar said.
Patel was a trusted lieutenant of Sharad Pawar. He was always seen with the NCP supremo, especially when the leader was in the national capital.
Patel even attended the recent opposition meeting held in Patna along with Sharad pawar and Supriya Sule.
But how did Praful Patel, a loyal soldier of Pawar Senior, turned against him? Many suggest that ED investigation against Patel could be one of the reasons.
ED case against Patel
Enforcement Directorate had recently attached certain assets of former Civil Aviation minister and senior NCP leader, Praful Patel, as part of its probe related to late international drug trafficker Iqbal Mirchi's assets.
Patel and his family's four floors at the Ceejay House, including his 15th-floor residence, had been attached provisionally by the ED in July last year, which was confirmed by the adjudicating authority recently.
ED had questioned Patel in October 2019 as part of its enquiry into an alleged 2006-07 joint venture between his company, Millennium Developers Private Limited, and Mirchi for the construction of the 15-storey commercial building.
Patel, defending the move, told India Today that he has not a single case against him and he does not need a character certificate from anyone.
He also said that the decision to switch sides and join the Shinde-BJP government was not a decision taken by one or two people but was a collective decision made by majority of leaders and workers of the party.
Patel's connections with bollywood, cricketers and business tycoons
The former union minister is considered close to many Bollywood actors as well as business personalities. Wedding of his son Prajay Patel was a star-studded affair in Jaipur. Jaipur witnessed a gathering of politicians, cricketers, as well as stars from the movie and fashion industries who gathered to attend the events. Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan and Shilpa Shetty were among the Bollywood celebrities who attended the wedding functions in Jaipur.
Prominent figures such as National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, former India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his wife Sakshi, celebrated cricket coach Ravi Shastri, and accomplished industrialist Sunil Bharti Mittal were also attendees in wedding of Patel's son.