Amidst the ongoing deliberations and maneuvering to resolve the leadership issue within the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the camp led by Ajit Pawar faced an embarrassing situation this morning due to a set of missing keys.
As the battle for control of the party intensifies against his uncle Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, the current Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, was scheduled to inaugurate a new party office near the state secretariat. However, when Ajit Pawar's loyalists arrived at the newly constructed 'Rashtrawadi Bhavan' this morning, they discovered that they were locked out and the keys were nowhere to be found.
Party leaders were observed seated on chairs outside the locked entrance, making urgent calls to locate the missing keys. Subsequently, footage revealed young leaders attempting to force open a lock in order to gain access to the bungalow and prepare it for Ajit Pawar's scheduled inauguration later in the day. However, upon entering, they encountered another obstacle: the doors to various rooms within the bungalow were also found to be locked.
The bungalow selected by Ajit Pawar as the party office previously belonged to Ambadas Danve, who serves as the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council and is a supporter of Uddhav Thackeray. However, Mr. Danve has now been allocated a different bungalow to accommodate his needs.
According to NCP leader Appa Sawant, the personal assistant of Mr. Danve had stayed overnight at the bungalow. Mr. Sawant, who serves as the vice-president of NCP's Mumbai wing, stated, "We have made all the necessary arrangements inside, but the personal assistant locked up and left. We have contacted him, and he informed us that he is on his way to Mantralaya and will hand over the keys to us." Mr. Sawant also alleged a conspiracy behind this incident.
Ajit Pawar's predicament with the missing keys occurs on a day when both his faction and his uncle Sharad Pawar's faction are conducting crucial meetings to strategize their next moves. Additionally, the NCP's allies, the Congress and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), are also holding a meeting today to discuss the unexpected developments of the past few days.
While both camps claim to represent the authentic NCP, they have not disclosed the number of supporting MLAs they possess.
In response to the rebellion within the party, Sharad Pawar has taken strong action by dismissing prominent leaders like Praful Patel, who participated in the ceremony where Ajit Pawar and eight other MLAs joined the government led by Eknath Shinde. The faction led by Sharad Pawar has formally lodged a petition with Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar, urging the disqualification of Ajit Pawar and his loyalists.
The party has additionally communicated with the Election Commission, emphasising that Sharad Pawar, the founder of NCP, remains the head of the party.