Sharad Pawar hasn’t relented; no talks yet on new NCP chief: Praful Patel

On Tuesday, Raut had said decisions in the Congress are ultimately taken by Rahul Gandhi though Mallikarjun Kharge occupies the post of the grand old party's president.

Mumbai: Senior NCP leader Praful Patel on Wednesday said there was no question of picking Sharad Pawar’s successor as party chief until there was a final decision on his announcement to quit the post.

Pawar has not relented despite repeated appeals from Nationalist Congress Party leaders and supporters that he withdraw his decision to step down, Patel told reporters here.

“Pawar yesterday said there should be a generational change. May be he wanted a new generation to step forward. None of us knew about it beforehand. He has asked for some time and we should grant him that,” Patel said.

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NCP MLA from Thane Jitendra Awhad said he had resigned as the party’s national general secretary following Pawar’s announcement that he was stepping down as the party supremo.

Earlier in the day, there was also speculation about Pawar’s daugher Supriya Sule emerging as the choice for national president and his nephew Ajit Pawar as Maharashtra unit chief.

Some reports also suggested that Praful Patel, who is the NCP’s national vice president, could be the new party chief, but he ruled out the possibility.

The party committee, which Pawar himself set up on Tuesday to decide on his successor, did not meet on Wednesday, he said.

He also denied that Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil was upset with the party and he was not invited to the meeting of top leaders in Mumbai.

When asked by reporters in Pune, Patil said he had a word with Supriya Sule who said there was no such meeting.

“If the situation arises, the committee will decide on Pawar’s successor and the decision will be unanimous,” Praful Patel said in Mumbai.

“He sought time to think over his decision after the party asked him to reconsider it, and till the final decision is arrived at, there is no question of deliberating on his successor,” he said.

“There is no vacancy,” he said, adding, “whether Pawar remains president or not, he is the party’s identity and soul.” The party was trying to persuade Pawar to reconsider his decision, Patel said, adding that workers should have patience and stop resigning from their posts en masse in protest against Pawar’s decision.

The `Vajramooth’ rallies of the Maha Vikas Aghadi — the alliance of the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT) — were postponed due to the hot summer conditions and it was decided on Sunday when a rally was held in Mumbai, Patel said.

“It has nothing to do with Pawar stepping down as NCP chief,” he said.

Awhad, a former state cabinet minister, said he and all office-bearers of Thane NCP have resigned after Pawar’s announcement.

Jayant Patil told reporters in Pune that he was among several people who had joined the NCP after being inspired by “Pawar saheb’s” leadership.

Asked if he would work under Supriya Sule, Patil said whatever decision the party takes, everyone has to accept it.

To a question if he felt sidelined in the party, Patil, a former state cabinet minister, said, “This is a big question. I don’t think there is any need to answer it today.” Pawar (82) on Tuesday dropped a bombshell by saying he is stepping down as chief of the NCP which he founded and helmed since 1999.

The announcement, made at an event, stumped leaders and workers of the 24-year-old party. Many party workers were seen crying and pleading that Pawar should revoke his decision.

Later in the day, Ajit Pawar announced that his uncle will need two to three days to “think over” his decision.

On Wednesday, Sharad Pawar stuck to his daily routine of meeting people including party functionaries.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole hit out at ally Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut, saying he should stop “interfering in other parties’ affairs”.

On Tuesday, Raut had said decisions in the Congress are ultimately taken by Rahul Gandhi though Mallikarjun Kharge occupies the post of the grand old party’s president.

“Sanjay Raut is not a spokesperson of Congress. How can he raise question marks over the capability of Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge? It is wrong to level false allegations against the Gandhi family,” he said.

“I would suggest that he (Raut) should not interfere in our party’s affairs,” Patole added.

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