Ajit Pawar quits as MLA 'troubled' by uncle's woes

Updated: Sep 28, 2019, 07:16 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Move stuns Sharad Pawar, NCP leaders; rumours of unrest in family and split in NCP do rounds

Party workers stage a protest in support of Sharad Pawar at Fort. Pic/ Sneha Kharabe
Party workers stage a protest in support of Sharad Pawar at Fort. Pic/ Sneha Kharabe

On a dramatic day that gave NCP boss Sharad Pawar the much-required traction over his plans to visit the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office, his nephew and one of the prime accused in the money laundering case, Ajit Pawar resigned as a legislator from Baramati. The news took senior NCP leaders, who were celebrating their orchestrated agitation ahead of the Assembly elections, by surprise.

Quoting Ajit's son, Pawar said his nephew might have resigned owing to a moral responsibility towards the unnecessary trouble that his uncle been put through. "His son told me that he (Ajit) was disturbed because of the ED action against me. He told his son that politics has stooped to a new low and hence he (the son) should quit politics and go into farming or business. I assume the restlessness made Ajit quit," said Pawar while addressing the media in Pune.

Admitting that Ajit didn't consult him before quitting nor did he inform him about it later, Pawar said, "I tried to contact him but he has been unreachable. Only after meeting him I will know what it's all about."

Some people said the resignation was meaningless because the lower house's term ends on November 9. A section of NCP said Ajit could contest a Lok Sabha by-poll against Udayanraje Bhosale, who quit NCP to join the BJP early this month. But then resigning from Assembly was not required for a sitting MLA to contest the by-polls.

Dissent in the family?

The sudden development has given rise to speculations that frictions within the Pawar family intensified and subsequently led to the former deputy chief minister's resignation. And even the NCP might split sooner or later.

In the Lok Sabha polls, the differences cropped up when Ajit asked for his son Parth's candidature from Maval. Pawar dropped his plans of contesting from Madha saying that many people from the same family shouldn't contest.

Sharad Pawar
Sharad Pawar outside his residence at Breach Candy. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

Recently, the uncle distanced himself from Ajit's directive that the party workers should carry a saffron flag at party events. Insiders said Ajit might have been asked to stay away from Friday's event in Mumbai because he was a prime accused in the alleged scam. Asking people to not pay heed to rumours, Pawar said, "We are one as a family and will always remain united. My word is the last word in the family."

Ajit went incommunicado immediately after his resignation was accepted. His personal staff members had switched off his phones. He had resigned as deputy CM in the past over allegations of irrigation scam, but returned in the office when a white paper gave him a clean chit. Sources said he also harboured a grudge against a section in the NCP, which had opposed his appointment as DyCM despite support of 60 MLAs. The group is still active in the party and has been trying to corner Ajit, party's group leader in the Assembly, over a series of corruption allegations.

Though he had a considerable clout in NCP's state affairs, the Numero Uno position in the party has been eluding Ajit. Ajit's cousin Supriya Sule enjoys a significant importance in the party as Pawar's daughter, but a neatly-cultivated emergence of the NCP boss's another grandnephew Rohit is reported to have caused unrest. "Ajit says what he wants to say. He does what he wants to do. He told his son that he wasn't scared of any agency because he had worked in the bank and cooperatives to save the cooperative sector for the benefit of farmers and workers. Some decisions were taken by MSC Bank, which the court has been asked to investigate," said Pawar.

"Ajit told his family that a person (Sharad Pawar) who has led the state four times and served at the Centre in his 52-year-old career has been framed in a matter that does not involve him," said the NCP chief.

'Accept my resignation'

Speaker Haribhau Bagde said Ajit visited his Mumbai office on Friday and submitted a handwritten resignation requesting immediate approval. "I verified details and
accepted the resignation," Bagde said.

He further said that Ajit had called him two days ago. "Today I asked him (Ajit) whether he wouldn't contest the polls. But he said he would tell me about it later and asked me to accept his resignation."

While Sharad Pawar accepted the Mumbai police's request that he shouldn't visit the ED office in Fort in view of law and order situation, the investigating agency also sent him a letter saying that he wasn't required for any probe on Friday or in future.

'Pawar appointed MSC members'

Speaking to mid-day, complainant Surinder Mohan Arora's advocate Satish Talekar, said, "In offences involving criminal conspiracy, the accused need not necessarily be at a director or chairman's position. They just need to be in a position to control the affairs of MSC or DCC bank by virtue of the position they enjoy – such as the NCP president, who was the former union minister of agriculture food civil supply and consumer affairs in the central government and was able to control the affairs of MSC bank through NABARD. Moreover, most of the members of MSC bank belong to NCP and they were appointed, nominated or elected by Sharad Pawar and his followers. His nephew was not only a member of the MSC bank board of directors but also a member of the loan committee and was able to exert influence being the deputy chief minister. Moreover, his involvement in the offences will be established during the course of investigation."

(With inputs by Faizan Khan)

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