AFTER MEEKLY withdrawing his rebellion against his uncle Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar was back into the NCP fold addressing party legislators on Wednesday, even as a clamour grew for his rehabilitation and induction into the state Cabinet.
In a public display of burying the hatchet, NCP MP and cousin Supriya Sule hugged a dour-looking Ajit as he entered the premises of the Vidhan Bhavan for the oath-taking ceremony of newly-elected legislators.
Pawar, after taking oath, declined to talk about the reasons he had joined hands with the BJP but claimed that he was always with the NCP. “I was with the NCP and I will be with the NCP in the future as well. It was not a rebellion. I was not expelled from the party,” he told mediapersons.
On his future within the party and whether he was angling for any post, Ajit said that it was for the NCP to decide. “The party will decide on my role.” Later in the day, Ajit addressed a gathering of party MLAs.
Ajit had last week seemingly brought down curtains on his association with NCP, by dramatically breaking away from family, dynasty and the political legacy of Sharad Pawar to chart an independent course as an ally of BJP. Eighty hours later, however, he was trumped by Pawar and back into the party fold. On Tuesday, after breaking off ties with BJP, he spent over four hours with Pawar at his residence, laying the grounds for his rehabilitation within the party. “I changed my decision (to go with BJP) after the Supreme Court order (ordering floor test) and after I spoke to my party colleagues,” he claimed.
NCP leader Nawab Malik said Ajit has admitted his mistake. “Ajit Pawarji has met Sharad Pawarji. He apologised and said he made a mistake. His role in the government will be decided very soon.”
Meanwhile, a clamour has already started within a section of NCP for Ajit’s induction into the Cabinet. “I would like to see him in the Cabinet. Not only me, many other NCP leaders would also like to see him in the government,” party MP Sunil Tatkare, a close associate of Ajit, told mediapersons.
Party veteran Chhagan Bhujbal said Ajit had played a vital role in the growth of NCP and his error needed to be overlooked. “His future role in the party will be decided by our party president. However, one thing that I know is that he has played a very important role in strengthening the NCP and spreading its base across the state. He is an important leader for us. Sometimes differences crop up but I am happy that he is back,” he added.
While there has been speculation that Ajit is angling for a post in the Cabinet and may make a pitch for the deputy chief minister’s post, Pawar does not seem to be in the mood to accommodate him this early. There have been indications that if state NCP president Jayant Patil gets inducted as the deputy CM, the vacant position of party chief may go to Ajit.
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