Mumbai: Suddenly out of job as Deputy Chief Minister, NCP leader Ajit Pawar is certainly not out of the reckoning, both within the family and the party.
In fact, Ajit on Tuesday night met his uncle and party chief Sharad Pawar at the latter's residence 'Silver Oak’, hours after tendering his resignation as deputy chief minister.
This is the first time that the two have met after the nephew’s behind-the-scenes shenanigans. Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule was also present at the meeting.
With that, there is speculation in political circles that despite his wayward conduct in the past four days, the magnanimous Sharad Pawar may finally forgive-and-forget, and even rehabilitate him within the party or the government.
Contrary to speculation, Ajit remained absent from the mega-meeting which unanimously elected Uddhav Thackeray as the new CM. But he was not forgotten at the Maha Vikas Aghadi jamboree with at least two leaders, including former Deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal, suggesting that he should be invited back into the NCP fold.
Shiv Sena leader and MLA from Aurangabad Abdul Sattar Nabi, while declining to comment on the NCP's internal affairs, felt that the services of an experienced and senior leader like Ajit Pawar should be utilized for the benefit of the state.
On his part, Ajit Pawar has not fully burnt his bridges with either the family or the party, and has studiously refrained from reacting to any statements or actions by the NCP in the past four days.
He readily met all top leaders of the NCP in a series of meetings since Sunday, till this morning; in a final meeting, he met some close family members reportedly at the instance of Sharad Pawar, which apparently helped break his resolve not to quit the alliance with the BJP.
"Till the very last minute, there were murmurs that despite the claims of 162 made by the MVA parties, at least 12-15 of his hard-core supporters could sour things for the proposed Thackeray-led government.
But everything seems to have worked out favourably," said a senior NCP leader, requesting anonymity. However, the unprecedented 'public parade' of the 162 MLAs late on Monday, followed by the Supreme Court's directives on the open ballot and live telecast of the assembly proceedings, proved to be the nemesis of the Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar two-man government.
Earlier in the day, Ajit is understood to have met Sadanand Sule, son-in-law of Sharad Pawar and Supriya's husband, and apologized for his miscalculation, after which he went and handed over his resignation to Fadnavis.
Later, Pratibha Pawar spoke to Ajit on telephone. She is like a mother for him. "Your decision will hurt our family. You should come back," she said.