Ajit Pawar: I did it for my uncle
NCP leader ends day-long silence after resignation from Baramati seat, and addresses allegation of money laundering and rumours of power struggle within the family
An emotional Ajit Pawar on Saturday ended the drama that had unfolded after his resignation from the legislature from the Baramati seat. He said he took the extreme step on Friday only because he was disturbed over the allegations levelled against his uncle and NCP boss Sharad Pawar in R25,000 crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam case. He also dismissed rumours of power politics in the Pawar family.
Ajit met his uncle and other family members in Mumbai before addressing the media at YB Chavan Centre where he teared up while talking of 'mentor' Sharad Pawar and the 'false and baseless' accusations. He criticised the Bombay High Court's decision of asking the city police's economic offence branch to file an FIR in the case, which subsequently was transferred to the Enforcement Directorate. Known for his tough body language, Ajit appeared an emotional wreck at the media meet.
Sharad Pawar at his Silver Oak bungalow in Breach Candy, where he met Ajit on Saturday
"I was emotionally disturbed because Saheb's (Sharad Pawar) name has been framed for no reason. And felt responsible for the trauma that Saheb had to go through. Saheb wasn't even a member or director of the bank. I think the case against him could be made only because my name is there and he is my relative. The police told the high court that there was no substance in the case (that came up before the bench after a PIL was filed) for filing an FIR, but the court cautioned the police against teaching it the law and asked for filing an FIR," said Ajit, who was accompanied by senior NCP leaders, who heaved a sigh of relief after being under immense pressure following the turmoil that followed the former deputy CM's abrupt resignation.
Ajit's clarification put to rest speculations that he would either stay away from active politics in the Assembly polls or, worse, split the NCP. On Friday afternoon, the party managed to get eyeballs and support from anti-BJP platforms over ED's action against the NCP boss. But Ajit's unexpected move changed the conversation by evening and replaced the advantage with a damaging narrative.
He apologised to his uncle, his party colleagues and workers for keeping them in the dark before resigning. "I did the same when I was accused in the irrigation scam [He was later given a clean chit]. I wonder where these scam figures come from. How can a bank which has deposits of Rs 11,500 crore sustain irregularities of R25,000 crore [the charge as per the EOW and ED]? This is ridiculous. The probes that started in 2011 are still being conducted. The allegations in the irrigation department are also being probed for years. We are ready with our responses, but the probes are still incomplete. What is this? We are also humans. Don't we have emotions?" he asked.
'We helped sick cooperatives'
Dismissing charges of corruption, Ajit said the bank's board of directors needed to help the sick cooperatives because they helped farmers and the poor. "When sugar and other cooperatives are in big trouble, the apex bank must help them. We did go out of the way with a single motive of saving them. I can give you examples of similar measures that the previous boards of directors took. You should investigate at what price the bank's administrative board that came into action after our board was dissolved, has sold the sugar mills. Despite all this the bank has a Rs 250 crore profit," he said.
Ajit said the BJP government had recently gone out of its way to give four sugar mills—controlled by their party leaders and supporters—financial assistance. "That's the government's prerogative."
'No power struggle in family'
Ajit asked the media to stop reporting rumours of power struggle in his family. "Why are you creating this [false news]? It happened when I entered politics. It happened when Supriya [Sule] was introduced. It also happened when Parth [his son] contested from Maval Lok Sabha. And it will happen again when the party decides to field Rohit [his nephew] in the Assembly polls," said the visibly upset politician.
"Our family is big, but we are not beyond Saheb's word. I have reached this level in politics only because of him. I went incommunicado yesterday because I wanted to be at peace. But my uncle called me today and I went up to him to discuss my feelings and decision. He has told me that I would have to listen to him. I couldn't look him in the eyes. I returned with my head down to meet the press," Ajit said.
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