A committee set up to choose the new Nationalist Congress Party chief has rejected incumbent president Sharad Pawar’s decision to step down, senior party leader Praful Patel said on Friday.
“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, former Union minister Praful 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 committee said.
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.
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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.