NCP’s Sharad Pawar steps down; uncertainty over successor

Mumbai: A day after Sharad Pawar announced his decision to step down as chief of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), party leaders on May 3 huddled up in an attempt to convince him to reconsider his decision, even as a section of them hinted that there was growing consensus in favor of his daughter Supriya Sule to take over the post.

As NCP workers, who were gathered at south Mumbai’s YB Chavan Centre, continued to raise slogans demanding withdrawal of his resignation, Pawar met party MLAs and leaders for over three hours at the premises and even held a slew of meetings at his residence ‘Silver Oak’ in the evening.

In response to an ultimatum by party workers that they will resign from their posts if no decision is taken by May 5, the 83-year-old veteran told reporters: “I will accept whatever decision will be taken by the committee.”

Pawar was referring to a committee that he had announced, after his resignation, on May 2 to decide on the next president of the party. “I took the decision without informing anyone. You would not have allowed me to take the decision if I would have told anyone,” he told the protesting workers.

Pawar, one of India’s tallest and senior-most political leaders, on May 2 announced his decision to step down as NCP chief. The development came amid swirling rumors about a section of party leaders breaking away to ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra.

Amid speculation over talks about the next party chief, senior NCP leader Praful Patel said there was no question of picking Sharad Pawar’s successor until there was a final decision on his announcement to quit the post. Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, who is a Member of Parliament (MP) from Baramati, is considered to be the frontrunner to replace him.

Pawar’s nephew and the man widely believed to have prompted his uncle’s drastic move in the first place, Ajit Pawar, had requested NCP MLAs and office-bearers to stop bombarding his uncle with their own resignations.

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