NCP’s Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar Gear Up for Power Struggle, Igniting a Showdown

A political battle of epic proportions is set to unfold as rival factions led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar brace themselves for a high-stakes showdown within the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Wednesday looms as a pivotal day in the struggle for control over the party, as both leaders have called for meetings in a bid to garner maximum support. The Y B Chavan Centre will serve as the venue for Sharad Pawar’s gathering, while Ajit Pawar’s faction has opted for the MET Bhujbal Knowledge City in Bandra.

With both sides preparing for an all-out legal war to assert their dominance, the Ajit Pawar faction faces the challenge of securing a minimum of 36 MLAs to avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law. The upcoming meeting on Wednesday presents a crucial opportunity for each faction to persuade party members to align with their cause.

In the face of adversity, Sharad Pawar has been personally reaching out to legislators, MPs, and other senior office-bearers, urging them to stand by his side. Reports suggest that he has been emphasizing the significance of this moment and encouraging individuals to make the appropriate decision in support of his leadership.

Supriya Sule, the NCP’s working president, and Jayant Patil, the state president, have released video messages rallying all party office-bearers and leaders to attend Sharad Pawar’s meeting. Sule, in her 54-second video, expressed her anticipation, assuring attendees that the 83-year-old warrior and esteemed leader, Sharad Pawar, would be present to guide them. She further mentioned that Pawar would share the party’s future plans and delineate everyone’s responsibilities. Jitendra Awhad, who has been appointed the opposition chief whip, also issued a whip mandating the presence of all legislators at Pawar’s gathering.

On the other hand, Ajit Pawar has been holding meetings with senior leaders and reaching out to numerous MLAs and party members via phone. The Ajit faction has taken preliminary steps to solidify its claim over the NCP, acquiring affidavits from legislators and senior office-bearers as part of their strategy.

Tensions between the two factions recently spilled onto the streets when supporters of Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal gained control of the party office in Nashik city. This action sparked a vehement protest from local loyalists of Sharad Pawar. As the latter group attempted to enter the office, a face-off ensued, and the police intervened, preventing their entry. Among those halted were district NCP chief Kondaji Awhad and former city unit president Gajanan Shelar. Shelar asserted that the office belonged to Sharad Pawar, as he had founded the NCP, dismissing any association with Bhujbal. Shelar proclaimed, “We will reclaim the office within a day.”

Kondaji Awhad contended that, as the district NCP chief, he had the right to hold a meeting in the office. Dilip Khaire, a supporter of Bhujbal, vowed not to permit the opposing group’s entry and accused Awhad of changing his stance after attending the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday. Ravindra Pagar, the city NCP chief, declared his allegiance to Sharad Pawar and announced his intention to attend a meeting called by Bhujbal, urging everyone to maintain peace. Supporters of Sharad Pawar staged a sit-in outside the office before eventually vacating the premises. A similar incident occurred in Nagpur as well.

Meanwhile, NCP MLAs Sunil Shelke and Kiran Lahamte, present during the swearing-in ceremony, expressed their belief that Pawar had agreed to join the coalition government. Shelke clarified that they were not influential enough to directly inquire about Pawar’s decision, but their assumption was based on the presence of senior leaders such as Supriya Sule, Praful Patel, Dilip Walse Patil, and Chhagan Bhujbal at the Sunday meeting. They presumed that Pawar was also ready to join the government.

The stage is now set for a fierce battle within the NCP as Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar mobilize their respective factions, determined to seize control of the party. As Wednesday approaches, all eyes remain fixed on the outcome, with the NCP’s future hanging in the balance.

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