Two days after Ajit Pawar and eight other MLAs joined the Sena-BJP ruling alliance, the NCP unit of Pune city made its choice clear: It is with Sharad Pawar.
On Tuesday, the party’s city leaders gathered for an executive meeting and unanimously passed a resolution in support of Pawar Sr. Significantly, they also decided not to personally criticise those from their ranks who joined the BJP-Sena alliance, saying the breakaway move was a ploy by the BJP to destroy the NCP.
Those who attended the meeting included Rajya Sabha MP Vandana Chavan and senior leaders Ankush Kakade, Jaideo Gaikwad, Ravindra Malvadkar, Dipali Dhumal, Shantilal Suratwala and Sushma Satpute. However, two MLAs from the city, Sunil Tingre and Chetan Tupe, were not present.
The city unit’s resolution stated: “In the current situation, our NCP is going through a difficult phase. Our national president Sharad Pawar has formed it with his efforts and self respect. It is entering its 25th year. The stand taken by a few leaders is against the ideology of the party and is creating confusion among many people. We are proud of the politics of Pawar saheb who has worked continuously for 60 years. He guided many new generations in politics. The BJP is deliberately trying to finish the NCP. We condemn the dirty politics of the BJP. Our true party is under the leadership of Sharad Pawar. The City NCP is with Sharad Pawar.”
City NCP chief Prashant Jagtap said, “The NCP was formed on June 10, 1999, under the leadership of Sharad Pawar and we recently completed 24 years. We were a recognised national party till March, but the BJP realised that the NCP was not going to be its ally. So, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah removed the national party status of the NCP out of anger.”
According to Jagtap, the BJP leadership realised that Maharashtra was a big hurdle on their way to retain power at the Centre in the next elections. “Pawar saheb is leading the Opposition from the front and the BJP was upset over it,” he said.
“We never dreamt of such a situation, of our party leaders joining the BJP-Sena government. The way problems were created for the Shiv Sena, the same is being done for the NCP. This struggle is against Modi, BJP and RSS ideology. It is not Ajit Pawar versus Sharad Pawar. No one should make any personal criticism of those who joined the government. Pawar saheb and party working president Supriya Sule are following this line and everyone should follow suit. In the next few days, the entire picture will be clear.”
Jagtap also called on “those who left to come back”. “The request to all is don’t make statements that will create tension between us and those who left. The fight is against the BJP, it shouldn’t be within us,” he said.
According to Jagtap, Sharad Pawar discussed with him about what should be done in Pune. “The 83-year-old fighter works without getting tired. We have to stand by the NCP chief. It’s a difficult struggle and we will have to face problems. This is a struggle of ideology and we will not give up our fight or make a compromise at any cost. We will never work under BJP and accept their communal values,” he said.
The city NCP chief further said that many of its members would be present for a meeting called in Mumbai on Wednesday. “We will have to submit a signed affidavit stating that we believe in the constitution of the party and without conditions, support the leadership of Pawar saheb… This may be used to fight for the name and symbol of the party in the election commission and court,” he said.
Former mayor Ankush Kakade said those who left are gone and “all who follow them will be our rivals”. “We will not go with communal parties,” he added.
MP Vandana Chavan said, “We feel sad that leaders with whom we worked closely have left us. It has obviously created confusion among party cadres. We have to fight against communal parties and for that, we have to stand by the NCP chief. We have to reach out to the people along with the NCP chief.”
District unit still undecided
Pune District unit NCP chief Pradeep Garatkar said they were still undecided on the way forward since party representatives of only 10 of 13 talukas attended a separate meeting held at a venue on Pune-Satara Road. “Many could not make it and there is a lot of confusion among all. Thus, no firm decision was taken on whether to extend support to Ajit Pawar or the NCP chief. We will hold a meeting again after a few days when the picture will be clear,” said Garatkar.