Discover Ajit Pawar, the seasoned NCP leader who splintered the organisation that his uncle Sharad Pawar founded

Ajit Pawar, the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), took the oath of office as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra on Sunday, making it the sixth time in his political career.

Ajit crossed sides with the rest of the party’s MLAs to join Eknath Shinde’s administration, thereby dividing the NCP in two. 40 NCP MLAs have reportedly joined the Shiv Sena group led by Eknath Shinde and the BJP, according to a BJP leader.

Ajit’s takeover ends a protracted conflict inside NCP. First, NCP President Sharad Pawar announced his intention to resign as the party’s leader. Then he announced that he would remain the party’s leader, named his daughter Supriya Sule and Praful Patel as working presidents, and demoted Ajit.

Since he took office as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra in a pre-dawn coup in 2019 with Devendra Fadnavis as the Chief Minister, Ajit and his son Parth Pawar have been marginalised in the NCP. But the administration only held power for three days.

The progression of Ajit Pawar from deputy chief minister to exile
Ajit Pawar held important positions during the 15 years that the Congress-NCP coalition ruled Maharashtra, including two terms as deputy chief minister.

Congress and the NCP controlled Maharashtra in alliance from 1999 to 2014, and from 2010 to 2014, Ajit served twice as deputy chief minister.

In 2010, Ajit first took on the role of Deputy CM. Then, just a few months after quitting due to corruption charges, he was reinstated as Deputy CM in 2012.

Ajit was referred to be “the real power centre” in NCP in a 2010 PTI piece.

“He is renowned for his managerial prowess, foresight, and planning, as well as for the manner he has managed the vital portfolios of energy and irrigation. Other NCP leaders are envious of Ajit Pawar’s popularity base among the party’s members. He is notorious for keeping the press at a distance, according to the PTI article at the time.

Ajit surprised everyone in 2019 by taking office as the Deputy CM of Maharashtra with Fadnavis as the Chief Minister. However, such administration only held power for three days. Later, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray took over as Maharashtra’s chief minister, and Ajit was appointed deputy chief minister for the fourth time.

Although Sharad Pawar selected Ajit as the Deputy CM of the Congress-Sena-NCP alliance, he was quickly marginalised within his own party.

Ajit Pawar is a respected minister and a member of the grassroots
Ajit Pawar, 63, portrays himself as a capable administrator and a leader of the people.

Ajit was also briefly referred to in the media as “the real centre” of power inside the NCP, the organisation that his uncle Sharad Pawar formed in 2019.

Ajit has managed significant financial, water resource, and energy portfolios in the many governments he has worked for over the years. Prior to the events of Sunday morning, he served as Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister four times: twice in the Congress-NCP administration from 2014 to 2019, once during the brief Fadnavis cabinet, and once again in the MVA coalition from 2019 to 22.

Ajit is “known to be politically ambitious and speak his mind,” according to a report by PTI, and he “enjoys the image of a grass-roots leader and an adept administrator.”

The conflict within the Pawar family
Ajit Pawar’s possible flip to the BJP is a topic that comes up sometimes in Maharashtra, according to Haima Deshpande of Outlook in April. After three months, he eventually made the transition.

Deshpande pointed out that despite the fact that these discussions have been going on since 2014, Sharad Pawar has been subdued as a result of the events that have occurred after Ajit’s swearing-in with Fadnavis in 2019.

The events of the preceding week in the Pawar family—the nephew being cut off from the outside world, cancelling all of his engagements, and contacting party MLAs despite his uncle’s denials—indicate that Ajit Pawar is making a last-ditch effort to challenge his uncle’s control of the NCP. Although the NCP may not divide right away, it cannot be stopped. There is no guarantee that Ajit Pawar will stay in the NCP, subdued and marginalised by his uncle Sharad Pawar’s political manoeuvres, noted Deshpande in April. “The BJP is on a poaching prowl to break up the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) by splitting up the political parties that constitute it.

Then, last month, Sharad Pawar named Supriya Sule as the NCP’s working president and handed her control of Maharashtra, which had previously been under Ajit Pawar’s leadership.

Sule’s promotion inside the party, according to sources, sped up Ajit Pawar’s decision to join the governing BJP-Shiv Sena coalition, according to PTI.

Ajit Pawar visited Delhi to meet with the BJP leadership in May of this year, before Sharad Pawar declared his intention to step down as party head only to reverse it later.

Deshpande remarked that the split in the NCP was inevitable by the time Ajit Pawar went into exile two months ago in the wake of Ajit Pawar’s coup today.

“Ajit Pawar’s uncle fully disassociated himself from him after the attempted coup in 2019. Parth Pawar, Ajit’s son, was also included in the opacity. Ajit Pawar had gone into hiding around two months before, abandoning all of his political and personal commitments while also conducting lengthy sessions with the NCP MLAs. The NCP split was inevitable and ultimately took place today, according to Deshpande.

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