Pawar displays show of strength

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar addresses supporters after paying  tributes to former Maharashtra chief minister Yashwantrao Chavan, in Karad on Monday

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar addresses supporters after paying tributes to former Maharashtra chief minister Yashwantrao Chavan, in Karad on Monday


Sacks key aides, denies blessing to Ajit revolt

Satara: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Monday rejected suggestions the rebellion by his nephew Ajit Pawar, now a deputy chief minister in Maharashtra's Shinde-led government, had his blessings as he displayed a show of strength to assert authority over the party that is battling its worst crisis.

In a related development, Sharad Pawar sacked party's working president Praful Patel and Lok Sabha MP Sunil Tatkare, who have sided with Ajit Pawar in his rebellion, for engaging in "anti-party” activities. The former Union minister, in a tweet, said, "I, as the National President, of Nationalist Congress Party hereby order the removal of the names of Shri Sunil Tatkare and Shri Praful Patel from the Register of Members of NCP Party for anti-party activities.”

Addressing a press conference in western Maharashtra's Satara district, Sharad Pawar said he has launched a statewide tour to strengthen the NCP and boost the confidence of its workers, unfazed by actions of a few leaders. On Sunday, Ajit Pawar led a vertical split in the NCP to become deputy chief minister. Eight other NCP legislators, some of them considered very close to the party patriarch, were also sworn in as ministers in the Eknath Shinde-BJP government.

Asked whether Ajit Pawar's rebellion had his blessings, the NCP chief said, "It is a mean thing to say. Only those with a mean and low intellect can say this. I have set out on a tour of the state and galvanize the cadre. They should not feel disillusioned with what some leaders have done."

Separately addressing NCP workers and supporters at Karad in Satara district, the 82-year-old politician maintained there was a need to fight forces creating communal divide in Maharashtra and the country.

The former Union minister, who co-founded the NCP in 1999 after leaving the Congress, rued defections in his outfit, saying “some of our people fell prey to BJP’s tactics to break other parties. Attempts are being made to create communal divide in Maharashtra and the country. We need to fight forces that create fear among peace-loving citizens. We need to protect democracy in the country.” The NCP chief said a “wrong kind of tendency” was rearing its head and the same tendency attempted to break the party in the state which was working on democratic principles.

“The objective behind this is to take the country’s affairs ahead with the help of these communal ideologies, and the same tendency took the same approach to turn things upside down in the state. Unfortunately, some of our colleagues fell prey to these tactics,” he said.

“In the next few months, we will get an opportunity to go to the people and with their help, we will push these tendencies aside and once again we will create a system that will work in the interest of the common people,” he said.

The NCP president said the Congress, a constituent of the MVA, was justified in claiming the post of Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, a position held by Ajit Pawar before he joined the Shinde government.

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