Mumbai: The battle for control over the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) escalated further on Tuesday, the third day after the split, as Ajit and Sharad Pawar moved to assert their authority by calling party meetings on Wednesday to showcase their strength.
On Monday, both factions made a series of decisions concerning the party and its top leaders. Sharad Pawar expelled nine leaders, including Ajit, for 'anti-party' activities. In retaliation, the Ajit Pawar faction removed NCP Maharashtra chief Jayant Patil and replaced him with Sunil Tatkare.
Patil: Ours is the Nationalist Congress Party; the newer one is just notional
Reacting to this, Jayant Patil stated, "Ours is the Nationalist Congress Party; the newer one is just notional." He added, "I'm the state president of the Nationalist Congress Party founded by Sharad Pawar. I don't care if anyone else takes any action against me," as he arrived at the state Party headquarters on Tuesday.
On the other hand, Ajit Pawar 'inaugurated' the new office of the NCP by renaming a state government allocated bungalow as 'Rashtravadi Bhavan'.
Both factions, Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar, are striving to gain the support of party leaders and workers. Today, Ajit Pawar called all NCP MPs, MLAs, MLCs, district heads, and state delegates, requesting their presence at a meeting on Wednesday at Mumbai's MET Bandra. Simultaneously, Sharad Pawar has summoned all members to the YB Chavan Auditorium on the same day.
"They need to justify their actions. But we know what the people across the state are thinking. We don't want to discuss anything about them," Patil said. He also highlighted that the Ajit Pawar faction is attempting to create an illusion that Sharad Pawar is on their side.
Following Patil's statement, Sharad Pawar, without naming anyone in particular, stated, "Those who do not agree with my views have no right to use my pictures."
Patil Shares NCP Supremo's plans
Jayant Patil also mentioned that after the meeting on Wednesday, Sharad Pawar will address the working committee meeting in Delhi and then embark on a tour of Maharashtra. "He will start from Nashik and visit Beed, Ahmednagar, Solapur, and a few more districts. He has resolved to carry out the tour come what may," Patil added.
Regarding the strength of MLAs, Patil stated that out of the 53 MLAs, he had expelled 9, leaving 44 with the NCP.
On Monday, Praful Patel claimed that 51 party MLAs had written to Pawar last year, urging support for the BJP to topple the Thackeray government, indicating that the same number of MLAs support Ajit Pawar. However, on Tuesday, Ajit claimed the support of 40 MLAs and asserted that the entire NCP was on his side.
Meanwhile, sources within the NCP revealed that the post of 'working president' in the NCP is a notional position created by Tariq Anwar in 2006 when Sharad Pawar was diagnosed with cancer. Hence, the real authority rests with Sharad Pawar, making it difficult for the Ajit Pawar faction to sustain.