Ahead of the crucial Nationalist Congress Party meeting to decide on its next president, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut on Friday said in politics nothing happens by accident. A committee of senior NCP leaders, including Ajit Pawar, Supriya Sule, former Union minister Parful Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal, are scheduled to meet at 11 am on Friday to decide on who will lead the party following their chief Sharad Pawar’s decision to step down earlier this week.
In a cryptic tweet, Raut quoted former US president Franklin D Roosevelt, “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens you can bet it was planned that way.” The move by NCP is expected to have ramifications on the Shiv Sena (UBT) which is part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, also comprising the NCP and Congress, that is taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra. On Thursday, an editorial in Shiv Sena (UBT) mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, of which Raut is the executive editor, said the end motive of Pawar’s nephew and top NCP leader Ajit Pawar is to become the chief minister. Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule has a good presence in Delhi and she works very efficiently in Parliament, said the editorial. It also said that the announcement to step down could also be Pawar’s way to assess organisational strength if NCP MLAs walk away just like the Shiv Sena, referring to Eknath Shinde’s rebellion last year. At the launch of his revised autobiography, ‘Lok Majhe Sangati’, which focuses on events post-2015 and was released on Tuesday, Pawar 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. In the book, Pawar wrote that the Congress’ “arrogance” was evident during the talks that led to the Congress and NCP joining hands with the undivided Shiv Sena after the 2019 Assembly polls.
Pawar also said that it was difficult to fathom why Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister chose to visit Mantralaya, the state secretariat in south Mumbai, only twice during the coronavirus pandemic, a claim described by Raut as “wrong information”. Further, he blamed Thackeray for failing to quell the discontent within his own party and for resigning as Maharashtra chief minister without putting up a fight.