The Pawar family infighting is primarily at the heart of the ongoing high-voltage political drama in Maharashtra. Sharad Pawar, who appeared to be in a hurry to set thing right after his nephew’s rebellion, quickly got into damage control. At the moment, Pawar Sr appears in control while Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is seen falling apart. But there is more it than meets the eye.
Why did Ajit Pawar suddenly decide to form a coalition government with the BJP? How come no one within the NCP or Pawar family got even a whiff of it? Here is the complete inside story of rebellion in the Pawar family.
Ajit Pawar had hinted to a great extent about his future move at the NCP meeting held on 17 November at Sharad Pawar’s house in Pune. In the meeting, the younger Pawar shocked everyone by saying that NCP should help the BJP in forming the next government instead of tying up with the Shiv Sena and INC. His proposal was turned down as the negotiations between NCP, Shiv Sena and INC had reached the last stage. Several rounds of talks were held between them in Delhi and Mumbai.
Even though Sharad Pawar rejected Ajit’s suggestion, he failed to foresee the danger. Within a week of that meeting, the cousin revolted and Sharad Pawar and NCP were left looking for answers. The NCP leadership at the Pune meeting not only failed to read what was going on in Ajit Pawar’s mind but also could not read other signs subsequently.
In the small meetings held at Sharad Pawar’s house in Mumbai, Dhananjay Munde and Sunil Tatkare shared the same opinion that Ajit Pawar had put in the Pune meeting.
Fadnavis and Ajit kept in touch; RSS pitched in
A number of sources said that Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar talked for the first time on 10 November. Since then, both leaders were talking every day. On several days, they had multiple dialogues. Both knew if the matter between them leaked, their whole plan would yield a nought.
Only NCP’s Dhananjay Munde and Sunil Tatkare were aware of it. Tatkare is considered very close to Ajit Pawar. Munde was chosen because Fadnavis trusted him.
The role of RSS in the development cannot be denied. Ajit Pawar’s maternal cousin Jagdish Kadam, vice president of the Deccan Education Society, is associated with the RSS. Kadam’s society runs a number of reputed colleges and institutes in Maharashtra and is controlled by the RSS. He was given the responsibility of fomenting differences in the Pawar family.
Kadam spoke to Ajit Pawar and took him into confidence. The would-be deputy chief minister of Maharashtra felt he had been marginalised in the NCP. His sons had lost in the Lok Sabha election. His nephew Rohit Pawar is rising fast in the party. They have differences with Supriya Sule every now and then. All these reasons were motivating Ajit Pawar to take an unexpected and different path.
Working on MLAs since last Monday
Ajit Pawar started working on his trusted MLAs last Monday. He asked only one question to the NCP MLAs he approached, “If I take a big step, can I count you with me?” However, he did not disclose to the MLAs what his big move was going to be.
In between all this, Ajit Pawar was involved also in all the important interactions going on with the INC and Shiv Sena. According to sources, he was part of at least 5 important meetings in Delhi and Mumbai.
An INC leader said that Ajit Pawar left the last meeting at the Nehru Centre on Friday in the middle of the proceedings. “The meeting lasted for about 2 h but he left after 55 minutes,” the source said. While coming out of the same meeting, Sharad Pawar had announced that the Shiv Sena would hold the post of chief minister for five years.
After this, Ajit Pawar called his trusted MLAs once again. He told the MLAs that his uncle had compromised the position of the NCP by discarding their demand of the chief minister’s post for two-and-a-half years; so, now was the time for action.
Ajit Pawar has changed the description of his Twitter profile to “Deputy Chief Minister, Maharashtra | Nationalist Congress Party Leader”.