While Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders are demanding that Ajit Pawar be re-inducted into the state cabinet in the wake of the state government coming out with a white paper on the status of irrigation projects in Maharashtra, the former deputy chief minister sought to distance himself from the demand in public.
Ajit Pawar, who resigned from the post of deputy CM in September following the allegation of large-scale irregularities in irrigation projects, said he would comment on the white paper only after studying it. “I have no relation with these demands,” said Pawar, while speaking to DNA on Friday. Ajit Pawar held the irrigation portfolio from 1999 to 2010.
Ironically, Pawar does not need to spell out his ambitions. In 2010, when a change of guard took place in Maharashtra with then chief minister Ashok Chavan making way for Prithviraj Chavan, an overwhelming number of NCP legislators had joined ranks demanding that Pawar be made the deputy chief minister instead of incumbent Chhagan Bhujbal.
“The NCP workers are demanding that Ajitdada be re-inducted. We will request Pawar saheb (Sharad Pawar) about this,” NCP spokesperson and MLA Nawab Malik said on Thursday after the white paper was presented before the cabinet. “I will not make any statements (on the white paper) till I get minute information… I will not speak on the issue till I see the white paper,” said Ajit Pawar.
“I resigned as in case I was in the cabinet when the white paper was issued, these people would have said that the white paper had been issued under pressure from the deputy chief minister,” said Pawar.
However, a Congress leader said Ajit is likely to join the cabinet after the controversy dies down and after the legislature’s winter session concludes. “There will be pressure from the NCP to re-induct Pawar. This may happen after the controversy dies down and the winter session concludes. If Ajit Pawar is inducted into the cabinet now, he will have to face the brunt of the opposition in the session,” he added.