The second act of the grand NCP drama unfolded on Wednesday, as senior party leader Ajit Pawar took the stage to commemorate the party's 25th foundation day. During his speech, he expressed his earnest desire to contribute to the party's organizational efforts.
Pawar who is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, appealed to the party leadership to relieve him of the responsibility and assign him any role in the party organisation.
Act first of the drama
The first act of the NCP drama unfolded around two months ago with intense speculations surrounding Ajit Pawar's rumored alliance with the BJP, allegedly accompanied by 40 MLAs. Tensions reached their peak when party leader Sharad Pawar, the esteemed party supremo, surprisingly offered to step down from his position as National Party President. However, he later rescinded his decision, emphasizing forthcoming changes within the party structure. The act concluded last week with the appointment of Supriya Sule, Sharad Pawar's daughter, and Praful Patel, the party's vice president, as Working Presidents, accompanied by several other announced appointments.
The pain of being sidelined within the party was expressed by Ajit Pawar as he spoke at the Shanmukhananda Auditorium here on Wednesday.
Was never interested in LoP post: Pawar
"I never had any interest in assuming the role of Leader of Opposition. However, my fellow MLAs strongly insisted that I take up the position. Even the party leadership encouraged me to do so. Yielding to their influence, I accepted the responsibility and have fulfilled it diligently for the past year. Yet, now I face complaints that I am not assertive enough as the leader of the opposition. What more do they expect from me? Am I supposed to physically restrain the ruling members? This criticism has reached its limit," Pawar expressed.
“Relieve me from the post and give me position in party organisation. Then see how I run the party,” he added.
He further said, “It is now up to the NCP leadership to decide on this demand. Assign me any post in the party organisation, and I will do complete justice to whatever responsibility I am entrusted with.”
Ajit Pawar bats for change in party's working
Ajit Pawar also said that introspection is necessary within the party and change will have to be brought about if necessary.
He also pulled up the party workers shouting slogans. “Do you have NCP corporator in you ward? Have you been able to win power for the party at your Gram Panchayat?” he aksed the party workers and said, “New workers are coming forward. Several cells are working. Doesn’t anyone feel that some change needs to be brought in into these cells? I say this many times. But,, nothing is done. Let me know whose interests are being served st such places? The cnages need to be made.”
Why can't NCP win state election on its own?: Ajit Pawar
Stating that party chief Sharad Pawar is a bigger leader than Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and others, Ajit Pawar asked party workers to introspect why the party hasn’t been able to win the state on its own as yet.
“If (West Bengal chief minister) Mamata Banerjee, (Delhi CM) Arvind Kejriwal, (AP CM) Jagan Mohan Reddy, N Chandrababu Naidu (of TDP), K Chandrasekhar Rao and Nitish Kumar can win their respective states on their own... Sharad Pawar is a bigger leader than all of them. Why cannot NCP work towards this goal (to win Maharashtra on its strength)?” he asked.
“We are lacking somewhere. We fall short in Vidarbha. We fall short in Mumbai,” Pawar said and added, “We are completing 24 years and entering 25th year of party formation. Yet we don’t even have a party president for the Mumbai unit. Why is it so?”
“Today is a day to rejoice. But, we need to introspect. We can sit here at the party headquarters and discuss among ourselves as to where we fall short. We can discuss this with the party leadership,” Ajit Pawar said.
Jayant Patil supports Ajit Pawar's plaints
Interestingly, state party chief Jayant Patil, who spoke after Ajit Pawar, supported the concern expressed by him and said that he too has been carrying out the responsibility as state party unit chief for more than past five years.
“I’ve been carrying out the responsibility as state party President since past 5 years and one month,” Patil said in an apparant support to Ajit Pawar’s demand for change in party organisation.
This has led to speculations whether Ajit Pawar would become the state party chief and Jayant Patil is likely to be entrusted with the responsibility as leader of opposition in the state assembly.