Pawar has sought more time to consider NCP committee’s resolution: Praful Patel

Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar has sought more time to reconsider his decision to step down as party chief, senior NCP leader Praful Patel said on Friday.

Patel and senior party leaders met Pawar at his Silver Oak residence in south Mumbai after a committee formed to choose his successor rejected his decision to step down as NCP chief.

“We requested (Sharad) Pawar saheb to consider the NCP committee’s resolution (which rejected his decision of stepping down as party chief). He (Pawar) has asked for more time and will convey his decision,” Patel said.

Earlier in the day, the committee set up to choose the new Nationalist Congress Party chief rejected Pawar’s decision to step down.

“The committee has unanimously passed a resolution. It unanimously rejects his decision to step down and urges him to continue as party president,” Patel said after a meeting of the committee. Pawar himself had set up the committee, including Ajit Pawar, Supriya Sule, Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal, after he announced on May 2 that he would be resigning as NCP chief.

“We will meet Pawar saheb with this resolution and request him to reconsider his decision,” Patel, who is also the vice president and convenor of the committee, told the media after the meeting.

Patel said the party and the country needs a leader like Pawar.

“Pawar saheb is a respected leader in the country. There was a strong response against Pawar’s decision. The emotions cannot be ignored,” Patel said.

As the meeting was underway, several NCP workers wearing caps with the message “I am with saheb” demanded that Pawar reconsider his decision.

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 an event, stumped leaders and workers of the 24-year-old party.

Pawar, a Rajya Sabha MP and one of the stalwarts of the Opposition, had said he was stepping down as NCP chief but was not retiring from public life.

The announcement came amid speculation that Ajit Pawar and some MLAs may join hands with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, though the former deputy chief minister has refuted such talk by claiming he will be with the NCP till he is alive.

According to party sources, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin of the DMK spoke to Sule over phone to enquire about developments in the NCP following Tuesday’s announcement.

While Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray and Congress have maintained the developments in the NCP will not affect the Maha Vikas Aghadi, which comprises the three parties, political observers said a lot would depend on what Ajit Pawar does after the Supreme Court verdict, likely in a couple of days, on petitions related to the toppling of the Thackeray government in June last year.