By the time you read this piece, we may have a concrete answer to the question: will Ajit Pawar will jump the ship, abandon his uncle and the party that he has belonged to all these years or will all of it once again be revealed to be nothing but futile speculation?
But the issue is beyond merely this question. Notwithstanding his denials earlier today, what we want to know is why Ajit Pawar, the leader who probably holds a record of being the longest serving deputy chief minister in Maharashtra, is now reportedly trying a stunt that, if it doesn’t work out, will probably jeopardise his career.
Ajit Pawar, the de facto leader of NCP is threatened in the party by none other than the party patriarch Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule.
Sule is an ardent supporter of MVA, and only a strong MVA can help her become the first woman chief minister of Maharashtra.
At the same time Ajit Pawar also wants power and wants his son Parth Pawar's political career to be established.
While for Mumbai, the first political family has always been the Thackerays, for western Maharashtra, the first political family are the Pawars.
The Pawars have always held their house together in spite of several rumours of rift between the cousins.
However, things are finally turning around now and it looks like Ajit Pawar is ready to jump the ship.
While it is believed that Ajit Pawar is the natural heir for the leadership of the NCP, it is also a fact that Sharad Pawar wants his daughter to succeed him.
Ajit has a lot of pull in the party. Even today out of the 50 odd MLAs that NCP has in Maharashtra, 40 are said to be supporting Ajit, while a handful are with Sule.
There are many fence-sitters as well. These are those who will move towards Ajit when they see the time is ripe.
When Ajit Pawar and Devendra Fadnavis in 2019 had carried out the historic, early morning 'coup', it is believed that it was Sharad Pawar who pulled the plug at the last moment leading to the three-day government’s collapse.
Ajit has since been trying to salvage a face-saver, and what could be a better comeback than getting himself appointed as the Deputy Chief Minister or a minister of prominence in the government.
Ajit Pawar, even when he was the deputy chief minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government, never openly attacked, or criticised the BJP or Devendra Fadnavis. His bonhomie with Fadnavis is no secret.
Ajit Pawar or for that matter the Pawar family is known to be one that cannot stay away from power for long.
They they need power to sustain, they need power to continue their work and need power to stay relevant.
If Ajit Pawar is indeed changing sides, you can be sure that it is not just about dominance but also about survival.
The most important aspect here is Ajit Pawar wanting a safe route for his son’s entry in politics.
Parth Pawar contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but lost. That he lost miserably hasn’t gone well with Ajit.
On the other hand, Parth’s cousin, Rohit Pawar, contested assembly elections the same year, and won. It is believed that the only difference here is that the winner had Sharad Pawar’s blessings.
Also Sharad Pawar has on several occasions expressed his displeasure with Parth’s style of politics. Ajit very well knows that in NCP it is difficult to carry out a task without Sharad Pawar’s blessings and to establish his son in politics, he may well try all the tricks in the book. If that means siding with the BJP, he will.
But all these are speculations. While the talks are of a split in NCP, chances are that the entire NCP goes with Ajit. A possibility that cannot be denied.
Uddhav Thackeray was leading the MVA, but today is the smallest partner in the alliance. It is not too difficult to see why the NCP sees not much of a future with the current MVA, and wants to survive the BJP onslaught, stay relevant.
Remember also, that nothing in NCP happens without the blessings of Sharad Pawar.
So if anyone tells you that Ajit is abandoning Pawar senior then the best thing is to ignore. Because even if he has to ignore Sharad Pawar, he has to do this with his permission.
Varun Singh, is a Mumbai-based journalist and tracks politics and other important news from the western region of the country. Varun has spent close to 18 years in journalism.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!