Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar has conveyed to the party that he is unable to attend its day-long convention in Mumbai on Friday due to his prior commitments elsewhere, which has raised eyebrows in political circles as speculation about his next political move refuses to die down.
Speaking to reporters in Pune, Pawar played down the buzz saying that he is not able to attend the NCP meeting as he has to remain present for some other programmes happening at the same time.
The NCP also said that Ajit Pawar’s inability to attend the party meeting does not mean he is planning to quit the organisation.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar is scheduled to address the party meeting in the state capital in the evening. The party meet started this morning.
Intense speculation is going on in Maharashtra’s political circles about Ajit Pawar’s growing proximity with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Rumours about his next political move started swirling last week when he suddenly cancelled his scheduled meetings and also made comments which were seen as being soft on the BJP and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s camp. The BJP is part of the Shinde government.
Talking about Ajit Pawar’s absence at the meeting, NCP spokesman Clyde Crasto said the party’s Mumbai event was planned a month ago.
“Ajitdada is continuously busy and he has accepted invitations to several programmes in Pune. He expressed his inability to attnd (the NCP meet). All leaders have their schedule to follow. Just because they are unable to attend one function, it does not mean they are planning to quit. He was present along with (Sharad) Pawar saheb for an ‘iftar’ party earlier this week in Mumbai,” Crasto said.
In Pune, Ajit Pawar said one has to choose between two political programmes happening at the same time.
“One should not have any doubts,” he said when asked about his absence from the party meeting in Mumbai.
Ajit Pawar, who is the Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly and a former deputy chief minister, had said on Tuesday that he would work for his party till he is alive and scotched speculation that he and a group of MLAs loyal to him might align with the ruling BJP.
When Maharashtra was under President’s rule after the results of the 2019 Assembly polls were out and Shiv Sena (undivided) severed ties with ally BJP, Ajit Pawar had secretly joined hands with Devendra Fadnavis and a government was formed with Fadnavis as the chief minister and the NCP leader as his deputy. However, that government lasted for just 80 hours after Ajit Pawar resigned.