Jayant Patil. File Pic
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founder Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar had a closed door meeting at an industrialist's residence in Pune in August to discuss the possibility of avoiding a formal split in the NCP, weeks after the latter joined the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government, a senior NCP leader said on Wednesday, reported the PTI.
The Sharad Pawar faction state unit president Jayant Patil said avoiding a split in the 24-year-old party after Ajit Pawar's switch to the ruling camp was the sole agenda of the 'secret' meeting, as per the PTI.
Jayant Patil, a former state minister, was also present in the meeting, according to the PTI.
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Speaking to a regional news channel in Nagpur, Jayant Patil said, "The meeting at an industrialist's residence was only to avoid a possible split in the party. This was the only issue that was discussed in front of me."
Ajit Pawar met his uncle Sharad Pawar around mid-August, weeks after rebelling against the latter and taking oath as a cabinet minister along with eight MLAs loyal to him on July 2.
Jayant Patil said, "We all have been in the party for the last 25 years. My efforts were to avoid a split in the party. The party belongs to all of us. That is why I was in contact with both sides (NCP factions), which stoked speculation of me shifting loyalties."
The former state minister said a political party acts as a bridge between politicians and common citizens.
"When you build a party, you connect with more and more people. Under the guidance of Sharad Pawar, the NCP has become a party of able people," he said.
Even after Ajit Pawar's switch over, the NCP (Sharad Pawar faction) has been maintaining that there was no split in the party.
NCP office allotted to Ajit Pawar camp
Meanwhile, The Maharashtra Assembly Speaker has allotted the Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) office at the Vidhan Bhavan (legislature complex) in Nagpur district of Maharashtra to the faction led by the state deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, sources claimed on Wednesday, reported the PTI.
Earlier in the day, leaders of the Sharad Pawar-led NCP faction had said their group was entitled to use the office.
(with PTI inputs)