Ajit Pawar, son of Sharad Pawar’s elder brother Anantrao, has charted a career graph similar to that of his uncle’s, rising through a firm grip on Maharashtra’s cooperative sector. He has been by his uncle’s side since 1991-92. Since the formation of the NCP by Sharad Pawar there has always been speculation as to who would take over the party after him.
Ajit, who considered himself the heir-apparent to the NCP chief, had to brush aside calls that he was insecure about his cousin Supriya Sule’s entry into electoral politics in the 2009 Parliamentary elections. While both cousins have denied any reports of competition between them, the entry of a third-generation Pawar in the form of Rohit Pawar is said to have rankled Ajit Pawar. Rohit, the grand nephew of the NCP supremo, has been gaining importance within the NCP ranks. His decision to contest the Maharashtra Assembly elections is said to have made his uncle Ajit a bit jittery.
Ajit Pawar is no stranger in using the resignation stratagem to have his way. In 2012 he had decided to give up all his ministerial portfolios and resigned as Deputy Chief Minister over accusations of irregularities in irrigation projects during his tenure as the Water Resources Minister. The Chavan government had slipped into a crisis following his resignation with other NCP ministers also threatening to walk out of the government. His uncle, Sharad Pawar, had to then step in to save the government.
Sharad Pawar’s decision to step back from contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was also said to be because of Ajit’s insistence on fielding his son Parth from Maval. The Senior Pawar was also said to be angry over his nephew’s decision to flutter saffron flags along with the NCP flag at all NCP events.
In September, Ajit Pawar had resigned as Baramati MLA claiming he was hurt by the inclusion of his uncle Sharad Pawar’s name in a money laundering case in connection with the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). He subsequently went on to win from Baramati in the Assembly elections.
When Ajit Pawar did not toe the party line before
September 25, 2012: Ajit Pawar, who was then the Deputy Chief Minister in the Prithviraj Chavan government, had rocked the ruling side’s boat by resigning from his ministerial position. The Chavan government’s predicament was solved only after Sharad Pawar stepped in.
April 2013: Ajit courted another major controversy when his question on whether people should urinate to fill up dams in parched regions evoked criticism from all across the state. While he apologised for his comments, the BJP, then in Opposition, milked the issue to target him and the NCP in the 2014 polls.
2004: When the NCP’s central leadership had conceded the chief ministerial chair to Congress despite emerging as the single largest party, Ajit had spoken out against it publicly.