Mumbai: Even though NCP chief Shard Pawar has claimed that he is in full control of the party after his nephew and party strongman Ajit Pawar resigned from the Maharashtra cabinet, the situation on the ground seems to be quite different.
In a show of strength, hundreds of supporters swarmed the venue of the crucial NCP Legislature Party meeting here, shouting slogans in favour of Ajit Pawar.
Also, after 19 other NCP ministers sent their resignations to state party chief Madhukar Pichad yesterday with a demand that the party should quit the coalition, now a powerful group of Independent MLAs supporting the Prithviraj Chavan government has expressed solidarity with Ajit Pawar and asserted that they will stand by him.
Representing a group of 12 Independent MLAs, MLA from Pune, Vilas Lande, said that their support to the government is only if Ajit Pawar continues in the government.
He also said that many more Independents are in support with Ajit dada.
“Many Independents are with Ajit Pawar and will remain so…we will decide (on support) if Ajit Pawar is removed as leader of legislator party,” Lande said.
“He (Ajit Pawar) is the leader and will remain so…he works the most, we have seen it and we know,” he added.
Lande’s comments came just hours before the crucial meeting of the NCP Legislature Party where a resolution was passed requesting Ajit Pawar to withdraw his resignation.
Meanwhile, as part of pressure tactics by Ajit Pawar led group a bandh has been called by traders in Baramati while protest by students is also planned in Nashik.
Supporters of Ajit Pawar feel that the NCP leader should not budge and withdraw the resignation. They feel that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has been providing tacit support to detractors of NCP.
There are 61 NCP MLAs in the 288-member House. Congress has 82 MLAs, while opposition Shiv Sena has 45 and BJP has 47 members.
Party sources said several legislators owing allegiance to 53-year-old Ajit Pawar are firm that the party should quit the government and extend outside support to the Prithviraj Chavan-led ministry.
The simmering tensions in the 13-year-old coalition came to the fore yesterday with the resignation of Ajit following reports of scam to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees in irrigation projects during his tenure as Water Resources minister between 1999 and 2009.
Senior NCP leaders, including party chief Sharad Pawar`s daughter Supriya Sule, have said the resignations tendered by all party ministers, submitted to state unit chief Madhukar Pichad yesterday, were a result of being "swayed by emotions" in support of Ajit Pawar.