Who is Ajit Pawar: The NCP ‘Rebel’ Who Returns as Maha Deputy CM
Fifty-three-year-old Ajit Pawar, or Dada as he is popularly known, was right in the middle of the political ‘coup’ that Maharashtra woke up to on 23 November; a Bharatiya Janata Party-Nationalist Congress Party government with Devendra Fadnavis taking oath as chief minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar being sworn in as the state’s deputy chief minister.
Just a month later, on Monday, 30 December, Ajit Pawar took oath as the Maharashtra deputy chief minister yet again, this time in the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government.
After a surprising turn of events in the high-voltage drama over staking claim, the three-party combine formed the government on 28 November, as Ajit Pawar pulled out of the Fadnavis’ government just before they were to prove majority on the floor of the House.
Ajit Pawar’s Political Ambitions
Ajit’s father Anantrao was NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s elder brother. Unlike Sharad Pawar, Anantrao worked for renowned director V Shantaram. Ajit’s ambitions, however, drove him into politics, following his uncle’s footsteps.
His career graph is similar to that of his uncle’s, as Ajit has worked to gain a strong grip on Maharashtra’s co-operative sector. He has been by the side of his uncle Sharad Pawar since 1992.
While Ajit was considered the heir-apparent to the NCP chief, he had to repeatedly deny rumours that he was insecure of the entry of Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule into politics in the 2009 parliamentary elections. While Sule and Ajit denied any competition between them, the entry of a third generation of the family into politics further strained the equations between its members. Rohit Pawar, grandnephew of the NCP chief, has been rising in importance within the NCP.
Ajit Pawar’s Repeated Resignations
Ajit is known to resort to resignations to get his way. In September 2012, while he was minister in the Maharashtra Cabinet, he resigned from his post as deputy chief minister over allegations of his involvement in the irrigation scam during his tenure as the Water Resources Minister.
The Maharashtra government was an alliance of the NCP and Prithviraj Chavan’s Congress. Under threats of resignation by other NCP ministers, the Chavan government had to reinstate Ajit. This happened only after Sharad Pawar stepped in to manage the political turmoil. Ajit was reinstated as deputy CM in December 2012.
Similarly, in September 2019, Ajit resigned as Baramati MLA. This time it was because he was hurt that his father’s name was included in a money laundering case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate. Ajit himself was also being investigated in the same case which was in connection with the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam.
He went on to win the elections from the same seat in the results announced on 24 October for a sixth straight term.
Ajit’s ‘Urine’ Comment That Drew Flak
In April 2013, dada stunned everyone while he mocked a farmer on hunger strike and asked if he himself should urinate to fill up empty dams? He had said, “There is this person from Solapur sitting on hunger strike for 55 days demanding water be released from the dam. But where are we going to get water from? Should we urinate? If there is no water to even drink, urination is not possible.”
Due to the flak that this comment drew, Ajit Pawar went on a day-long fast to repent his comment a week later. He apologised as well.
Ajit Pawar’s Family
Ajit Pawar calls himself an agriculturist. His wife is Sunetra is a social entrepreneur. They have two sons together, Parth and Jay.
Sunetra also looks after the politics in his constituency. She is the sister of former Minister of Maharashtra Padamsingh Bajirao Patil.