Ajitís resignation a pre-emptive strike
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Tuesday morning, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar called up his uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar seeking permission to resign over the irrigation scam controversy. Surprised, the senior Pawar advised him to re-think with a cool head. When he was about to board a flight to Kolkata later in the day, he got a second call from Ajit. He had made up his mind, and a reluctant NCP chief had to give his assent.
In the ensuing days, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan kept calling senior NCP leaders in New Delhi seeking their intervention only to be told that he himself should talk to the Deputy CM. As it stands, Ajit's resignation seems more a pre-emptive strike to insulate himself politically, given that PILs are pending regarding the alleged scam and public opinion is building around it. And if the White Paper on irrigation casts any aspersion on his functioning, the junior Pawar could portray himself as a victim.
The resignation then is a smart gambit as Ajit seeks to emerge as a rallying force against the Congress, given the prevailing sentiment in the NCP's rank and file that the Congress (read Chavan) is out to undermine the NCP and is behind the "leaks" embroiling NCP ministers in alleged scams. Ajit also advocates a go-it-alone-policy, notwithstanding the NCP leadership's assessment that both parties would lose if they go separately.
Ironically, Ajit's resignation will reinforce Chavan's image as a "clean" CM. Some NCP leaders also believe that while Ajit is growing ambitious because of his hold on organisational affairs, he is not so naÔve as to take on Sharad Pawar. As for the purported succession battle, a senior NCP leader recently proposed to Pawar Sr that he should consider his daughter Supriya Sule against the vacancy created by Agatha Sangma's exit from the Union Cabinet. The answer was a firm 'no'.
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