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Sharad Pawar sacks Praful Patel,Sunil Tatkare, vows to fight back; Ajit Pawar camp makes appointments in NCP

MUMBAI: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Monday rejected suggestions the rebellion by his nephew Ajit Pawar, now a deputy chief minister in Maharashtra’s Shinde-led government, had his blessings as he displayed a show of strength to assert authority over the party that is battling its worst crisis since inception.

A day after rebellion in the NCP, Sharad Pawar sacked party’s working president Praful Patel and general secretary and treasurer Sunil Tatkare, who have sided with Ajit Pawar in his revolt, for engaging in ”anti-party” activities.

The Ajit Pawar camp quickly hit back by removing state NCP president Jayant Patil and making new appointments.

The former Union agriculture minister, in a tweet, said, ”I, as the National President, of Nationalist Congress Party hereby order the removal of the names of Shri Sunil Tatkare and Shri Praful Patel from the Register of Members of NCP Party for anti-party activities.” He tagged Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP who was appointed as NCP working president last month, and Tatkare in his tweet.

Later, the NCP supremo issued notices to Patel and Tatkare, who is also a Lok Sabha MP.

Accusing them of facilitating and spearheading defections of nine MLAs without his knowledge and consent, the senior Pawar, in his letter, said ”Your action of supporting Shri Ajit Pawar and eight other MLAs who have sworn oath as ministers in violation of the party’s direction and mandate amounts to anti-party activities”.

”I remove your names from the membership register of the party in view of your actions,” Sharad Pawar said.

The party is initiating appropriate action for formal disqualification of Patel and Tatkare as MPs under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, the letter said.

It added that ”misrepresentation of association with NCP henceforth will be illegal and unlawful” on the part of Patel and Tatkare.

Sharad Pawar’s action came soon after NCP working president Supriya Sule, in a letter, demanded action against Patel and Tatkare, whose daughter is one of the new ministers in the Shinde cabinet.

The Ajit Pawar camp soon hit back by appointing Tatkare as the Maharashtra NCP president in place of Jayant Patil. It also asked the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker to disqualify Jayant Patil and Jitendra Awhad from membership of the House.

Praful Patel told a press conference in Mumbai he has appointed Tatkare as the Maharashtra NCP president and Ajit Pawar as the leader of the NCP legislature party, while Anil Bhaidas Patil, who took oath as a minister on Sunday, will continue to be the party whip in the Assembly.

Patel said the decision to back the Eknath Shinde-led government and the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a ”collective” move by the NCP.

”Today (Monday) is Guru Purnima; we all wish that Sharad Pawar continues to bless us,” said Patel.

Patel said instead of asking them how many MLAs are in the Ajit Pawar camp, the question should be put to the other side (rival group).

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who was present at the press meet, said he enjoyed the support of ”maximum” NCP legislators and said he has given a letter to the Assembly Speaker, seeking disqualification of party MLAs Jayant Patil and Jitendra Awhad (who belong to rival group) from the House.

”A majority of NCP MLAs are with us, that is why I became deputy CM. We have requested the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker to disqualify Jayant Patil and Jitendra Awhad,” he said.

The junior Pawar, however, did not reveal the number of NCP MLAs supporting him.

Ajit Pawar said the party and MLAs were with him and the notice for disqualification against him and the eight newly sworn-in ministers was meaningless.

Asked whether he will expel anybody from the party, including NCP working president and his cousin Sule, Ajit Pawar shot back, ”We are not here to expel anybody from our party.” The deputy CM said he had the party with him and also its symbol (clock).

”Whatever we are doing is in the interest of the party. We will strengthen our party further, ” he said.

Asked who was the NCP’s national head, Ajit Pawar said, ”The party national president is Sharad Pawar. Have you forgotten?” He said the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly is appointed by the Speaker and not by a party functionary.

”Law will decide if we have rebelled. Only the Election Commission of India will decide to whom the party belongs,” said Ajit Pawar and added the ‘mahayuti’ government (led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde) in Maharashtra will work for welfare of the state and its people.

”We got the deputy chief minister’s post and we will work for welfare of the state,” said Ajit Pawar.

The junior Pawar took a dim view of Jayant Patil appointing Awhad as the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.

”It is the prerogative of the Assembly Speaker and the Opposition party with highest number of seats gets the post,” he said.

The deputy CM scoffed at notice of disqualification against him and eight newly sworn-in ministers and also sacking of Patel and Tatkare as well as office-bearers who attended Sunday’s oath taking ceremony.

The NCP has 53 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly. Addressing a press conference in western Maharashtra’s Satara district, Sharad Pawar said he has launched a statewide tour to strengthen the NCP and boost the confidence of its workers, unfazed by actions of a few leaders.

Asked whether Ajit Pawar’s rebellion had his blessings, the NCP chief said, ”It is a mean thing to say. Only those with a mean and low intellect can say this. I have set out on a tour of the state and galvanize the cadre. They should not feel disillusioned with what some leaders have done.” Separately addressing NCP workers and supporters at Karad in Satara district, the 82-year-old politician maintained there was a need to fight forces creating communal divide in Maharashtra and the country.

The former Union minister, who co-founded the NCP in 1999 after leaving the Congress, rued defections in his outfit, saying ”some of our people fell prey to BJP’s tactics to break other parties.” ”Attempts are being made to create communal divide in Maharashtra and the country. We need to fight forces that create fear among peace-loving citizens. We need to protect democracy in the country,” he added.

Before addressing the gathering, the NCP president visited the memorial of his mentor and Maharashtra’s first CM Yashwantrao Chavan in Karad and paid floral tributes to him.

 

Praful Patel was fortunate who became MP without facing polls by filling form: Sharad Pawar takes dig

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday targeted Praful Patel, who has been sacked from the party for siding with Ajit Pawar, saying he was fortunate unlike others as he used to get elected to Parliament without facing any elections just by filling the form.

After Ajit Pawar took oath as deputy chief minister on Sunday, the Pawar senior had singled out Patel and MP Sunil Tatkare for ”abandoning” the guidelines of the party president and taking a ”wrong path”.

Addressing a press conference here before announcing the decision to sack Patel and Tatkare, Pawar said, ”All our MLAs and MPs (pointing at some of them flanking him) have done a lot of hard work to get elected. They go among people and work but Praful (Patel) is a fortunate colleague who by just filling out the form becomes an MP.

”These people (MLAs) do not have to go and cast their votes to elect him (Patel). He gets elected unopposed and no election-related expense is incurred”.

Patel is ”fortunate” as he gets the opportunity to become a member of Parliament easily, Pawar added.

When asked if Patel has expressed his wish to meet him but stuck to his stand, Pawar said Patel has the right to take any stand. ”If he wants to offer some guidance, we will just listen and leave it,” he added.

Pawar also asserted that he is the last authority in NCP and had fixed some responsibilities for Patel.

”If he (Patel) does something contrary to those responsibilities by breaking the line of the party, he has no right to remain in that position,” he added.

Asked whether he was pained to see that leaders groomed by him are deserting him, Pawar replied in the negative.

”Not at all. My experience tells me that whenever such a situation emerges, the final decision is taken by people and common voters in elections. I have faith in them,” he said.

Talking about his state-wide tour, which he launched from Karad city in western Maharashtra, the NCP patriarch said he wanted to reassure young cadres of NCP to not feel upset after the current happenings in the party.

”During my journey from Pune to Satara, I saw a large number of party workers, especially young people, waiting for me and extending support,” he said.

Queried on Ajit Pawar’s statement that if ”NCP can go with Shiv Sena, it can also go with BJP”, Pawar said such developments are not unprecedented in politics.

”After the Emergency, the only person in the country who supported the Emergency was Balasaheb Thackeray. In subsequent elections, Shiv Sena didn’t field any candidate against the Congress,” Pawar said.

”The leaders who took oath yesterday were also part of the erstwhile MVA government. But that time (when they took oath in 2019), they didn’t look worried, so there is no need to assign any importance to what they are saying,” he added.

Asked if the investigation by the Enforcement Directorate prompted some NCP leaders to join the BJP-Shiv Sena government, Pawar said he didn’t have any information regarding this.

”I only heard what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said recently said about corruption in NCP. Modi spoke about the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (scam) and purported irrigation scam while talking about NCP.

”But he didn’t stop our main leaders from taking the oath. It shows that the allegations levelled by him were devoid of facts. In a nutshell, the leadership of the country has declared them (NCP leaders) innocent,” Pawar quipped.

He recalled how MLAs had left him in the 1980s but he rebuild the organisation with the support of people.

Queried about NCP MP Amol Kolhe’s tweet, the NCP chief said Ajit Pawar is also not someone who is an outsider.

A day earlier, Kolhe was seen with Ajit Pawar at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai but on Monday he declared his allegiance to Sharad Pawar.

”My daughter (Supriya Sule) had also gone there thrice (at the meeting convened earlier on Sunday by Ajit Pawar). There is nothing wrong,” Pawar added.

He said the decision on disqualification of nine MLAs who have joined the Shiv Sena-BJP government will be taken by NCP state president Jayant Patil.

”Patil’s decision will be supported,” he added.

Pawar said several MLAs (of his party) had called him in view of the Sunday’s development.

”They will declare their stand at the right moment,” he added.

Maharashtra assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar has held a meeting with deputy chief ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar at Fadnavis’ bungalow in Mumbai.

When asked about this meeting, Pawar said the Speaker’s post is an institution that is bound by rules, regulations, and protocol.

”The person chairing it should ensure the dignity of that institution,” he added.

 

Source: Press Trust of India

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