Mumbai: Despite protests by NCP workers, resignations of party office bearers and appeals by other leaders, Sharad Pawar has not changed his decision to resign from the post of party president. Though there was no official announcement from the NCP, reliable sources said that Mr Pawar will not change his decision. Supriya Sule has emerged as the frontrunner for the NCP president’s post, while Ajit Pawar will get control of the all-important Maharashtra unit.
Several senior NCP leaders, including Ms Sule and Ajit Pawar, met the NCP chief on Wednesday at Y.B. Chavan Centre in Mumbai. Former Union minister Pruaful Patel denied that there was any official meeting called by the party and said that Mr Pawar met a lot of people "as usual". However, a leader present in the discussions confirmed that options before the party were discussed.
"Mr Pawar is not in the mood to change his decision. There was a brief discussion on how to proceed in case he resigns," the leader said.
A senior NCP legislator, requesting anonymity, told this paper that the committee Mr Pawar appointed committee is likely to hold its meeting on Friday. "The resignation of Mr Pawar is likely to be accepted in this meeting as he is not ready to change his decision. His successors may be contemplated in the same meeting," the senior NCP legislator said.
Another option before the committee is to reject Mr Pawar's resignation and appoint an executive president.
Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal said that Ms Sule and Ajit Pawar should lead the party after Mr Pawar. Mr Bhujbal said that Ms Sule was ideal for a "national role" as she has a good grasp of issues. "She has been doing well as a parliamentarian. Ajit Pawar should handle the responsibility of the state (Maharashtra). The division of work is already there," he said.
Interestingly, the NCP recently lost its status as a national party. Whoever is in charge of Maharashtra's affairs will control the party. The ‘national role’ will be only a decorative position.
According to sources, the majority of the senior NCP leaders, including Mr Bhujbal, Mr Patel and Sunil Tatkare, are backing Ajit Pawar to take control of the party.
When asked if Ms Sule will become the national president of the party, Mr Patel said that Mr Pawar is still the president and the question of a new party president has not arisen. "Let us not speculate. Pawar saheb has asked for two to three days to decide on his resignation. We should give him that time. Probably on Thursday or Friday, we will formally announce the final decision in this regard. I will be making the formal announcement and requesting everyone to stop speculating till then," he said.
Earlier in the day, the NCP workers continued their protests outside the Y.B. Chavan Centre. The protests were stopped only after Mr Pawar personally intervened and directed them to have food. There were protests in other parts of the state as well.
Several office bearers gave their resignations in protest of Mr Pawar’s decision to resign from the party president post. Senior NCP leader and MLA Jitendra Awhad resigned from his post as national general secretary. Many other office-bearers in Thane district have also resigned with him.
NCP's Kerala unit chief P.C. Chacko, national general secretary of NCP K.K. Sharma, Mr Bhujbal, Anil Deshmukh, Hasan Mushrif, Dilip Walse-Patil and Sunil Tatkare met the NCP chief with a request to reconsider his decision.
NCP's Maharashtra unit chief Jayant Patil went to meet Mr Pawar at his residence, Silver Oak, late on Wednesday evening. According to the sources, Mr Patil is negotiating for his position in the party as Ajit Pawar is likely to take command in Maharashtra.