MUMBAI: Once seen as Sharad Pawar‘s political heir,
faced a series of setbacks and sidelining within NCP. While some speculate that cases against the seven-term MLA powered his rebellions, the root of his latest discontent can be traced back to earlier times.
Those close to him said Ajit Pawar was consolidating his control over the party and nurturing his own group of loyalists, when his uncle Sharad Pawar began diminishing his influence and power. The pivotal moment came in 2004 when Sharad Pawar decided to concede the chief minister post to Congress, despite NCP winning more seats. “Ajit Pawar believed this was to prevent him from becoming CMat the cost of the party losing the position. He never got another chance,” said a close aide.
The power struggle within the party intensified when Sharad Pawar’s daughter, Supriya Sule, entered politics in 2006. In 2009, Ajit Pawar faced another setback when Chhagan Bhujbal, an OBC leader, was chosen as the deputy CM over him. However, Ajit managed to secure the post the following year.
In 2012, the irrigation scam cost Ajit the deputy CM post. But, he made a quick comeback after a state government probe cleared him. It was the current deputy CM,
, who made the irrigation scam a significant issue in the 2014 polls.
The bitterness in the family further intensified when Ajit Pawar’s son, Parth, faced a major setback and was defeated in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Maval.
In November 2019, Ajit once again revolted against his uncle and formed an 80-hour-long government with Fadnavis. But Sharad Pawar managed to suppress the rebellion. Now, Ajit’s departure was only a matter of time.
In May, the rift within the party became public. Sharad Pawar appointed Sule and Praful Patel as working presidents of NCP.
Even now Ajit’s impulsive and emotional nature has been outmanoeuvred by his uncle. The stakes are high for both leaders.