Veteran leader Sharad Pawar is yet to take a final call on requests to roll back his resignation, but his Nationalist Congress Party is clearing decks for a successor — just in case. Supriya Sule, Mr Pawar’s daughter, appears to be the favourite.
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The committee tasked with choosing a successor will meet today to decide on the next step as instructed by Sharad Pawar. Sources said it can set in motion the process of Supriya Sule’s elevation. Many have hinted that she will also take on Sharad Pawar’s mantle in the Opposition.
For the committee, the big challenge is keeping Mr Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar within the fold. There has been no indication that a special role is being crafted for the 63-year-old within the party.
But the NCP is in talks with allies Congress and the Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray to pitch its leader as the Chief Ministerial face of the Maha Vikas Aghadi in the next assembly election. Sources said the party is the largest one in the alliance and Ajit Pawar is the Leader of the Opposition.
Today, leaders of opposition parties from across the country called Sharad Pawar, who has been working to unite opposition leaders ahead of the 2024 elections, and discussed his decision to step down from the president’s post. Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir
Farooq Abdullah, DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechuri, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, CPI’s D Raja were the prominent leaders who have spoken to the NCP patriarch today.
Sharad Pawar’s shock resignation was announced on Tuesday amid speculation about Ajit Pawar’s growing proximity to the BJP. Many assumed that Sharad Pawar’s move was meant to forestall him and a split in the party that might follow.
On Wednesday, Ajit Pawar, after a meet with his uncle, quoted him as saying, “I took my decision but because of all of you, I will rethink on my decision. But I need two to three days”.
Sharad Pawar has not shown any inclination to change his mind so far. Today, addressing the emotional partymen, Mr Pawar said: “It is true that before taking such a decision it should have been discussed with the co-workers. But I knew that you would never agree, so I took a direct decision”.
Earlier today, Congress’s Rahul Gandhi spoke to Supriya Sule on Mr Pawar’s resignation as the chief of Nationalist Congress Party, sources said.
Senior party leader Chaggan Bhujbal has endorsed Supriya Sule as Sharad Pawar’s successor. “Ajit Pawar should take care of the state and (Supriya) Sule should take care of national politics. She should be the next national president if Sharad Pawar doesn’t want to continue as the president,” he had told NDTV yesterday.
After the 2018 assembly election, Ajit Pawar suddenly took oath with Devendra Fadnavis, as his uncle worked to stitch up a coalition with Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and the Congress. In a book recently, Pawar Senior said he was “shocked” when he learnt about it.
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