Sharad Pawar announces decision to step down as NCP president

Forms panel to name successor, The installation of Ajit Pawar as his uncle’s political heir appears evident

Team Parvasi – Inside

Sharad Pawar announces decision to step down as NCP president

New Delhi: In a major development that may further alter the dynamics of BJP-opposition relationship ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar stepped aside from his role saying it was time for the younger generation to take over the mantle. Nephew Ajit Pawar by his side, Sharad Pawar made the announcement in Mumbai during the launch of his autobiography. Sharad Pawar, a four-time chief minister of Maharashtra and the architect of the erstwhile Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena-NCP and Congress government in the state, also announced the formation of a committee of NCP leaders to work on the future course of action.

Although Sharad Pawar’s immediate replacement was not announced, the installation of Ajit Pawar as his uncle’s political heir appears evident. Ajit Pawar has routinely threatened to rebel having recently met several NCP MLAs amid signals that he could split the party.

Maharashtra political observers say Sharad Pawar’s resignation could be the peace deal between the powerful uncle and the ambitious nephew who wants to be positioned as NCP chief sooner rather than later. Sharad Pawar’s Lok Sabha MP daughter Supriya Sule is hardly viewed as a challenger to her cousin with Sharad Pawar hoping to ensure her political future too through the internal arrangement he announced today of a party panel which will guide the future course of action.

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Ajit Pawar, who was deputy CM in the erstwhile MVA government, has never hidden his chief ministerial ambitions and has also never concealed his effortless flings with the BJP.

In 2019 after Maharashtra elections threw up BJP as the single largest party, Ajit Pawar had ditched Sharad Pawar to go and form a government with BJP and even took oath as deputy CM with Devendra Fadnavis as CM. The BJP however lost the trust vote.

Sharad Pawar then engineered the MVA alliance with Uddhav Thackeray taking oath as CM. The Shiv Sena split last year ended the MVA run with Ajit Pawar again commencing his dabbling with the BJP.

Sharad Pawar’s latest move is being seen as his final attempt to save the NCP from a split, and meanwhile buy time to ensure a smooth transition. The 82-year-old Maratha strongman had helped found NCP in 1999 after leaving the Congress over projection of Sonia Gandhi as the prime ministerial face of the party. Pawar had cited her foreign origins to make the case.

Unable to prevent Sonia’s rise, he, along with PA Sangma and Tariq Anwar went on to form their own party–the NCP–which soon joined the ruling Congress-led UPA coalition at the centre with Sonia Gandhi at its helm as UPA chairperson.

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