‘You are 83 years old now, when will you retire?’: Ajit Pawar asks Sharad Pawar

'You are 83 years old now, when will you retire?': Ajit Pawar asks Sharad Pawar


Ajit Pawar addressed a meeting of MLAs and party workers supporting him for the first time after joining the NDA government and taking oath as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra. During this speech at the meeting in Mumbai, he relentlessly criticised his uncle and Nationalist Congress Party’s founder president Sharad Pawar. He asked Sharad Pawar, ‘You are 83 years old now, when will you retire?’ He defended his decision to join the BJP-Shiv Sena (Shinde) govt in Maharashtra, stating that he has done nothing wrong.

Both factions of the NCP had called meetings today and issued whips to the MLAs to attend the meeting. Ajit Pawar called the meeting at MET College in Bandra, while Sharad Pawar held the meeting at Yashvantrao Chavhan Centre. Reportedly, 31 MLAs attended the Ajit Pawar camp, and the Sharad Pawar meeting was attended by only 10 NCP MLAs.

Ajit Pawar took a swipe at Sharad Pawar urging him to step down and give a chance to the new generation stating that even leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retire at the age of 75. He also blamed Sharad Pawar for losing out on the chance to have a chief minister of Maharashtra despite having the support of a majority of MLAs in the year 2014. 

‘Sharad Pawar is my idol’, said Ajit Pawar

Interestingly, Ajit Pawar said that despite breaking up, Sharad Pawar is still his idol. In the banner behind the stage, Sharad Pawar’s picture was the largest in size.

Ajit Pawar said, “I don’t understand why I’m made a villain in front of people. What’s wrong with me? What wrong have I done? All these things are happening. But Sharad Pawar is my idol. But you tell me, isn’t it true that if a person joins the Maharashtra government, he retires at the age of 58? If they are IAS, IPS, etc., they retire at the age of 60. If you are in politics, you retire at the age of 75 in the BJP. Murli Manohar Joshi and LK Advani are such examples.”

Ajit Pawar further said, “A new generation is coming forward in later years. You can happily bless them. If I am wrong, tell me, Ajit, you’re wrong. Let’s admit the mistake and fix it and move on. For whom else are we all working? Is it our fault that we weren’t born to someone special? Friends, today our senior leader went to visit the Samadhi of Yashwantrao Chavan. Yashwantrao is our ideal. I also made a mistake and I did express my repentance at his Samadhi in the past. I felt bad for my own behaviour at that time. Now, if you’re 82 or 83, are you ever going to stop or retire? In terms of age, we want you to be a centenarian.”

‘Why did he resign if he wanted to continue?’

Ajit Pawar further stated, “I was told that he (Sharad Pawar) was resigning, and will be looking after the institutions and NGOs. Then he told us that there’s a committee, and all of you head that committee. We also agreed to sit and then asked Supriya to become the national president. Who knows what happened in the next two days? He later withdrew his resignation. If you wanted to withdraw your resignation, why did you resign in the first place? Let us know if we are capable enough or not. Even though at the end of the list, my name surely comes up in the major leaders who are seen as prominent leaders of the party, right? So why am I not blessed by our senior leader then? When the farmer turns 60, his 25-year-old boy is told that now he should look at the farm and his parents will give him advice.”

‘I also spoke to Supriya’

Ajit Pawar said, “I also spoke to Supriya. Supriya, we belong to one family, one household. Say something. Supriya said that he is stubborn. What exactly is this stubbornness? We have a lot of respect for Sharad Pawar. Now, some MLAs are called. If they don’t meet, their wives are called, emotionally charged. I don’t take names, but the senior leader asked an MLA why he is coming here with us. He folded his hands and said we have made a promise to Dada (Ajit Pawar).”

Ajit Pawar praised Narendra Modi

Ajit Pawar said that many of his MLAs were urging him to take a bold step. He said, “Often, all these MLAs would say do something, we didn’t know about 2019. If you take any steps now, we will support you. Today, Narendra Modi’s charisma is in the country. In the 2014 elections, the BJP came to power from Kanyakumari to Kashmir because people voted for them by looking at Narendra Modi alone. In 2019, he again won an absolute majority for his party.”

Ajit Pawar briefly revised the political history of the state and country

Recalling how Sharad Pawar defected from the Vasantdada Patil government of Maharashtra in 1978 and became the chief minister at the age of 38, Ajit Pawar said, “Why did such a time come on the NCP and on us today? I am also trained under the guidance of Saheb (Sharad Pawar). In 1978, our senior leader formed the government by defecting from the Vasantdada Patil government and he formed the government of Purogami Lokshahi Dal which is Pulod (Progressive Democratic Party). Sharad Pawar was 38 years old at that time. Since then, Maharashtra has been watching Saheb’s politics. Pulod’s government also had the Jan Sangh, which is now the BJP.”

Ajit Pawar added, “I will not go too far back. Our senior leader (Sharad Pawar) started in 1962. Some people were not even born in the time that followed. But time does not stop. He was elected in 1967. He became minister of state in 1972. He became a minister in 1975. In 1978, an occasion came when Vasantdada Patil’s government collapsed and our senior leader formed the government. At the age of 38, Saheb (Sharad Pawar) became the Chief Minister. Since then, this Maharashtra has been supporting them. We came into political life and we all supported him whatsoever.”

‘People need a charismatic leader.’

Ajit Pawar underlined the need for a charismatic leader in Indian politics and gave examples of Indira Gandhi and Jaiprakash Narayan. He said, “Gone are the times of 1978. In the 1980s, there was a wave of Indira Gandhi, for the second time in Indian politics. Jan Sangh was also involved in Pulod, which is now the BJP. Uttamrao Patil and Hashu Patel were in that cabinet. That government was gone in 1980. At that time Indiraji had said that if everyone comes to the Congress, then the government will be kept intact. But that didn’t happen, so in 1980, the government was gone and elections were held. Indiraji was elected. Indiraji became the Prime Minister.”

Ajit Pawar added, “If you look at history, you will know that your country needs charismatic leadership. People listened to Jayaprakash Narayan and elected the Janata Party. Where is the Janata Party today? It was at the national level in 1977. You won’t get that party even if you search for it. Why is it so? Because the party did not have a leader with charisma.”

Ajit Pawar also recalled the political monkey balancing of Sharad Pawar in the 80s and 90s

Ajit Pawar further recalled the political moves of Sharad Pawar. He said, “In the years that followed, in 1985, he again floated parties such as the Samantar Congress and the Samajwadi Congress. Even then, he was supported by us. In 1985, we sat in the opposition. Remember that everyone has time. We can do a great job between the ages of 25 and 75. There is a determination to do something for the community when you are at that age.”

Ajit Pawar also recalled how Sharad Pawar first lost a chance to become the Prime Minister and later lost to BJP-Shiv Sena when he was the incumbent chief minister during the 1995 elections of the Maharashtra state assembly. He added, “I don’t know what happened while all this was happening. But the people and workers were told that in 1986, the Samajwadi Congress merged with the Congress. For two years after that, our senior leader did not get any posts. In 1988, when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister, he was given the chief minister’s post. A re-election was held in 1990 and a majority could not be achieved. Then in 1991, I could go to Lok Sabha, and Praful Patel could go to Lok Sabha. At that time, we lost Rajivji in an unfortunate incident. Then a wave came and Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister. At that time Saheb (Sharad Pawar) had to become a defence minister. Sudhakarrao Naik was given the responsibility of the chief minister. Then in 1993, when the bomb blasts took place, Narasimha Rao sent Saheb (Sharad Pawar) back to Maharashtra. In 1995, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance came to power. We have also seen the time when Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane were chief ministers.”

Ajit Pawar also recalled how NCP leaders worked as young and new ministers

Ajit Pawar further said, “In 1999, we were told that Sonia Gandhi was a foreigner. A foreigner cannot be the Prime Minister of the country. On this note, NCP was formed. In 1999, Chhagan Bhujbal took the initiative to support our senior leader and you also supported him. When elections were held four months later, Chhagan Bhujbal took over the field. You may remember this history. In the years that followed, I, R. R. Patil, Sunil Tatkare and Jayant Patil were all young. We also had some dreams. We wanted to build Maharashtra in our own way. Even in Vilasrao Deshmukh’s cabinet, we worked very hard. At that time, I was given the charge of Krishna basin development and we took responsibility. Maharashtra knows that I have a grip on the administration. I did not indulge in caste politics. Whenever any worker came, he took the stand of getting his work done. We did it all so that the state can move forward. Maharashtra should be known as the number one state in the country. It’s my dream.”

Ajit Pawar also recalled how NCP skipped an opportunity for the CM post

Ajit Pawar said, “In 2004, we had 71 MLAs and the Congress had 69 MLAs. I didn’t have a very important place in the party at that time. At that time, Sonia Gandhi had told Vilasrao Deshmukh that the NCP should get the chief minister’s post. Vilasrao asked us who would be the chief minister among you. At that time, Chhagan Bhujbal, and R. R. Patil’s names were being discussed. But when the opportunity came, we took four more portfolios and we did not take the chief minister’s post. If I had got that opportunity, I firmly say that by now you would have seen the chief minister of the NCP in the state.”

He added, “We respect elders. We also know that when elected, people expect our MLAs to do development work, and that is the way we have been working. With everyone else, we have to move forward with changing times. We came down from 71. Ashok Chavan was the chief minister at that time. The Congress had more seats then. The reality is that in 2004, there were fewer MPs, yet we did not go beyond four, eight, or seven MPs in any elections. I sincerely felt that our party should grow. The number of MPs and MLAs should increase. New workers and new women activists should come forward. After 25 years, a new generation comes forward, after 50 years the second generation comes, and after 75 years the third generation comes. It’s a cycle.”

Ajit Pawar revealed that there was a secret plan for the BJP-Shiv Sena-NCP alliance in 2014.

Ajit Pawar said, “In 2014, when the BJP was not in power, BJP leaders said that the formula was 16 seats for NCP, 16 for Shiv Sena and 16 for BJP. However, the BJP withdrew. The BJP came to central power in 2014. After that BJP came to power in the state. The coordination that should have been there has not happened. We had to sit in opposition. But we didn’t grow well is the fact. BJP, Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) and NCP have a huge majority in the house now.”

What happened in 2014?

Ajit Pawar said, “In 2014, Praful Bhai spoke to Sharad Pawar. Later, Praful Bhai announced that we support the BJP from the outside. We remained silent. Why? Because the senior leader decided that. Devendra Fadnavis became the Chief Minister. We were told that ‘Everyone should go to Wankhede Stadium for the swearing-in ceremony. Narendra Modi knows me. They have talked to us.’ If we didn’t want to go with BJP, why did the senior leader send us there? Why were we sent to the swearing-in ceremony of the cabinet?”

What happened in 2017?

Ajit Pawar said, “Discussions were held at Varsha Bungalow in 2017. There were four people, including me, Sunil Tatkare, Jayant Patil and one more. Sudhir Mungantiwar, Devendra Fadnavis, Vinod Tawde and Chandrakant Patil from BJP were in front of us in those discussions. The departments and the districts for allotment of guardian ministerships were all decided. I’m not lying. If I lie, I will not say that I come from the Pawar clan. We got a message. Sunil Tatkare was called to Delhi. Their seniors (BJP leaders in Delhi) said they would not leave the Shiv Sena alone, that party has been our ally for 25 years. They said the Shiv Sena will also remain in the alliance. Our superior leaders didn’t approve of that. He said, Shiv Sena will not work for us. Shiv Sena is casteist communal party. Now, I don’t understand how come our senior leader was all fine with a casteist communal party like Shiv Sena in 2019.”

What happened in 2019?

Ajit Pawar said, “The results were declared in 2019. Our senior leaders, Praful Patel, senior BJP leaders, me, Devendra Fadnavis, and an industrialist all discussed in detail sitting at the house of that big industrialist. There were five meetings in all. Devendra and I were told by our senior leaders not to speak out about anything. So why would I speak anywhere? Then there was a sudden change and he said that he wanted to go with Shiv Sena. Tell me, in 2017, he said that he did not want to go with Shiv Sena because it was a casteist communal party. So, what miracle happened that the Shiv Sena became an ally two years later? How did the BJP – with which he wanted to go in 2014 – become a casteist communal party all of a sudden?”

Ajit Pawar’s way ahead

Clarifying his future plans, Ajit Pawar said, “Our status of national level party has been revoked. We want to get it back. I have done all this with the help of all of you. The NCP’s highest number of 71 is 2004, which we will cross anyhow in the 2024 elections. We will contest around 90 seats in the 2024 elections. We will campaign across Maharashtra. I still request our seniors to bless us.”

He added, “We are told that the public meetings of Sharad Pawar Saheb are going to start now. The first meeting will be held in Dilip Walse Patil’s Ambegaon. What wrong did Dilip Walse Patil do? He built the party network in the constituency. I can also talk a little bit, if not like you. I can also give a speech. People listen to me as well. If he starts touring tomorrow, I too will have to hold a meeting there after seven days. I have to answer. If I shut up, people will say I’m lying. But friends, I’m not lying.”

He concluded by saying, “I request our senior leader to have some rest. Don’t be so stubborn. I’ve spoken a little today. But if the public meetings start tomorrow, I will have to tell people the facts. That time should not come to any household, any family. I still respect everyone. I’ll keep doing it tomorrow. But somewhere the seniors have to stop. Seniors should just bless us. If we are wrong, show us our mistakes. We will improve and will not repeat those mistakes.”

The split in the NCP has become a topic of discussion in the state. The repercussions were felt in state politics. On the one hand, the Ajit Pawar group and on the other hand, the Sharad Pawar group held a meeting at the same time. Speaking at the meeting, Ajit Pawar clarified his detailed stand. Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal directly targeted Sharad Pawar and strongly objected to his various stands in the past.

The Ajit Pawar faction has also approached the election commission, asserting its claim for the party name and symbol. In response, Sharad Pawar, along with his supporters, has declared that the party symbol will remain under their control. Today, a significant development unfolded as at least 28 MLAs from the NCP appeared on stage alongside Ajit Pawar, intensifying the dispute over the allegiance of the party’s 53 Maharashtra MLAs.



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