The political relationship between Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar is dead. But it refuses to lie down.
As alliance partners Shiv Sena and the Congress overcame their suspicions triggered by the frequent meetings between uncle and nephew, accepting the line that the deliberations were not political, the senior Pawar caused another flutter by denying a split in the NCP. Both the allies are now perplexed again.
Sharad Pawar said in Baramati on Friday that some leaders have left the NCP by taking a “different political stand” but it cannot be termed as a split. “Ajit Pawar is our leader. There is no dispute about it,” he said.
He argued: “How can anybody say that there is a split in NCP? How does a split happen in a party? It happens when a big group separates from the party at the national level. But there is no such situation in NCP today. Yes, some leaders took a different stance but this can’t be called a split. They can do so in a democracy.”
It is possible Pawar’s posturing is to send out a message that defection by a few senior leaders cannot be perceived as a split. In legal and political terms, a split is different from defection.
His daughter Supriya Sule had said in a recent interview: “I believe that we, from our end, will try our best to keep the family intact. We will try not to bring politics into the family. He (Ajit) has made a choice for himself as an Indian citizen in a democratic system. Why should it be a political battle between us? It is an ideological battle. Two ideologies will fight against each other. We will be one as a family, but contest against each other ideologically.”
Talking of an emotional split that had deeply pained her father as well as the family, Sule said: “After all, politics is about policies and ideologies. It is not a business transaction — that I don’t like a job here and am going there. This is what differentiates us from them.”
She also said: “But I believe in dialogue in democracy. We are not enemies.”
Senior leaders of the Shiv Sena and the Congress don’t believe Pawar will quit the INDIA combine and embrace the BJP.
A senior Congress MLA told The Telegraph: “Pawar is absolutely clear that he can’t accept the RSS-BJP ideology and Modi’s politics. He also believes that they are on a downhill journey and the people of Maharashtra have not appreciated the politics of defections. Under these circumstances, the possibility of Pawar himself aligning with the BJP is nil.”
But this clarity is not reflected at the lower levels. Shiv Sena (UBT) Legislative Council leader Ambadas Danve said: “There is no doubt that such statements by Sharad Pawar are creating confusion in the minds of the workers and people of the state. If he is saying that Ajit Pawar is their leader who is now in the NCP, then of course there is confusion.”
He added: “Some people left our party and betrayed us, we call them traitors. The same thing happened in the NCP.”
Party’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut said: “There is a split in the NCP. Ajit Pawar’s group has expelled Sharad Pawar from the NCP and the Sharad Pawar group has expelled Ajit Pawar from the NCP. There are two state presidents of the NCP. If this is not a split in the party, then what is? People have no confusion in their mind… people have understood that there is a split in the NCP.”
Insisting that Pawar would never join the BJP, Raut expressed his frustration by saying that the people of Maharashtra would decide what to do with the leaders if anyone was trying to sail in two boats at a time.