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Maharashtra NCP crisis: “You are 83, aren’t you going to stop? Ajit Pawar takes swipe at uncle Sharad Pawar

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India] : Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar on Wednesday took a swipe at his uncle and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar urging him to step down and give a chance to the new generation stating that even leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retire at the age of 75.

The junior Pawar also blamed the 82-year-old Sharad Pawar for NCP losing out on the chance to have a chief minister of Maharashtra despite having the support of a majority of MLAs in the year 2014. “You portrayed me as a villain in front of everyone. I still have deep respect for him (Sharad Pawar)…But you tell me, IAS officers retire at 60…even in politics – BJP leaders retire at 75. You can see the example of LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi…That allows the new generation to rise…” “You (Sharad Pawar) give us your blessings…The other day, he went to YB Chavan memorial…I have also been there…but you are 83, aren’t you going to stop?…Give us your blessings and we will pray that you live a long life,” said the Deputy chief minister while addressing party legislators and other workers in Bandra here. “In the 2004 Vidhan Sabha election, NCP had more MLAs than Congress. Had we not given Chief Minister post to Congress at that time, till date, Maharashtra would have had a Chief Minister only from Nationalist Congress Party”.

In May this year Sharad Pawar had announced that he will step down as the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) national president but later took back his decision after protests. Also, in the 2004 legislative elections, the NCP had bagged 71 seats while Congress had secured 69 seats. Recalling a meeting in 2017 at Varsha Bungalow, the official residence of the Maharashtra chief minister, Pawar said, “On the orders of the senior leaders of the party, Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayant Patel, I and several others had gone there.

Several leaders from BJP were also there. There were discussions among us over cabinet portfolio allocation and positions of Guardian Ministers. But later our party took a step back”. Defending his decision to join the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government, the leader of Ajit Pawar faction, Praful Patel, who spoke before him at the Bandra MET centre said, “What is the objection to going with Bharatiya Janata Party?” “When we could accept the ideology of Shiv Sena, then what is the objection to going with BJP? We have joined this alliance as an independent entity,” Praful Patel said. “The Peoples Democratic Party Chief Mehbooba Mufti and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah went with BJP in Jammu and Kashmir and they are now part of the joint opposition,” Praful Patel said.

In 2015, BJP allied with PDP as no party could get a majority in the 2014 Assembly polls in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, in 2018, BJP pulled out of its coalition government with the PDP. He said they have joined the Eknath-Shinde government for the sake of the nation. “I went to the joint opposition meeting in Patna with Sharad Pawar, and I felt like laughing when I saw the scene there. There were 17 opposition parties there, 7 of them have only 1 MP in the Lok Sabha and there is one party that has no MP,” he said, referring to an Opposition meeting held in Patna last month. “They claim they will bring change… This decision (of joining NDA) we have taken is for the nation and our party and not for personal gain,” Patel claimed. The crisis in NCP is escalating with two factions calling separate meetings today in an apparent show of strength. NCP suffered a split on Sunday with Ajit Pawar joining the Eknath Shinde-BJP government along with eight other MLAs.

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