As a Nationalist Congress Party panel formed to choose the next party president announced on Friday that it had unanimously rejected Sharad Pawar's decision to step down, jubilant NCP workers broke out in celebration outside the outfit’s office.
They burst crackers, raising slogans “Ekach saheb” (there is only one boss).
Scores of party workers had gathered outside the NCP office at Ballard Estate in south Mumbai demanding that Pawar reconsiders his decision.
Although the committee was to officially meet at 11 am, leaders and party workers had reached much before the scheduled time.
All appeared to be well synergised and well-orchestrated – workers wearing white caps with “I am with saheb” printed in blue, some holding party flags, while others holding placards with an appeal that Pawar reconsiders his decision. As more leaders continued to enter the NCP office, the crowd of party workers jostled together in the sweltering weather, their bodies covered in sweat.
One worker even tried to immolate himself by pouring kerosene on his body. He was stopped by fellow workers.
Around 11.30 am, it had more or less become clear that the committee had passed a resolution rejecting Pawar’s decision to step down. No sooner did the announcement was made by Praful Patel, NCP vice president and the committee’s convenor, than the workers erupted in joy.
They burst firecrackers and filled the air with slogans 'Ekach saheb' (there is only one boss).
As senior NCP leader and Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar made his way from the party office, a group of supporters screamed “Ekach Dada” (there is only one big brother) as the slogan “Ekach saheb” continued. Ajit Pawar is affectionately called "Dada" in political circles.
Earlier this week, NCP workers had staged protests after Pawar announced his decision to step down as party president.
Former Shiv Sena Lok Sabha MP Anand Paranjpe who later joined the NCP said, “Pawar saheb has to accept the committee’s resolution.” He had come here with party leader and Kalwa-Mumbra MLA Jitendra Ahwad, accompanied by his supporters.
Paranjpe was seen instructing his supporters to arrange for drums, crackers and sweets as he left for Thane.
Pawar on Tuesday sprang a surprise by announcing his decision to quit as president of the party he founded and headed since 1999 when he left the Congress to chart his own political course.
The announcement, made at the launch of his updated autobiography, stumped leaders and workers of the 24-year-old party.
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