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Four days after the Nationalist Congress Party split vertically, party President Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar will attempt to demonstrate their respective strength of elected MLAs here on Wednesday, which could be a harbinger of the political weather ahead.
The Ajit Pawar-led NCP is conducting its first gathering at the MET Auditorium in Bandra this afternoon, while Sharad Pawar’s 25-year-old political vehicle is meeting at the Y. C. Chavan Auditorium in Colaba.
The Ajit Pawar faction has made lofty and contradictory claims about its popularity, claiming 40 or more MLAs. The Sharad Pawar side, on the other hand, has not announced any figures, but party leaders say that most MLAs, with the exception of the nine who took oath as Ministers on Sunday, and the rank-and-file support them.
The current situation is similar to what occurred in June 2022, when ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was toppled in a revolt led by his trusted man Eknath Shinde, who walked off with around 50 Shiv Sena and 10 independent legislators and later became the CM.
Last time, the Shinde faction invoked the name of the party’s original founder, the late Balasaheb Thackeray, the Ajit Pawar faction invokes the name of the original NCP founder, Sharad Pawar.
In the Shiv Sena split, a trusted close associate secretly raised the banner of mutiny, while in the NCP, a close family member has brazenly rebelled – and both have joined the ravenous BJP.
Ajit Pawar New Game
The Ajit Pawar side is battling for the NCP name and the ‘Clock’ emblem, just as the Shinde faction did for the original party name and the Bow-and-Arrow sign.
As previously stated, both opposing NCPs have begun obtaining sworn testimonials of their respective supporters, which may have consequences when the two sides square off before the Election Commission of India and the courts.
Shinde’s Shiv Sena had relied on the allied Bharatiya Janata Party to create his administration; this time, Ajit Pawar has forced himself on both the Shiv Sena and the BJP, and Shinde’s position has been undermined.
Both opposing NCPs have given separate Whips to all 53 MLAs for the meeting, same as the fractured Shiv Sena did in 2022 when it cracked double Whips to all 56 MLAs.
A confident NCP Working President Praful Patel said his party has the backing of over 40 MLAs, or more than two-thirds — a figure stated even by Shinde and linked to the Arabian Nights epic of ‘Ali Baba…’