Quashing speculations of him engineering a split in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the support of 40 MLAs, party leader Ajit Pawar on Tuesday, 18 April, said that no such development is going to take place and "all such rumours must now be put to rest."
"I am seeing deliberate attempts being made to spread falsehoods about me and my party colleagues via various channels. All the news about me is untrue. You all saw me and my other colleagues in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) show of strength in Nagpur on Sunday," he said.
"All of you started circulating the news that I have signatures of 40 MLAs. There is no truth to that. All of us are with the NCP and will be with the NCP," Ajit Pawar said.
"When rumours like these spread, the morale of our party workers also gets affected. I want to tell all of them that there is nothing to worry. The party was founded by Sharad Pawar and it has seen several such ups and downs through the years. But rumours are being deliberately spread to divert attention from important issues of public interest - inflation, unemployment, damage to crops due to untimely rains, etc," he said.
The clarification by Ajit Pawar also came with slamming the Devendra Fadnavis-Eknath Shinde government of not answering questions related to issues of farmers.
"The leaders of other parties should remain spokespersons of their own parties, don't try to represent me either as my spokespersons or my lawyers," he said, taking a jibe at BJP leaders "welcoming him if he wanted to join the party."
He further urged media to not report in speculations.
"The rumours were backed by saying that I did not address the rally in Nagpur on Sunday despite being present. Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat also did not speak at the event. Why weren't speculations started about him? It was decided that only two leaders from each party will address the event," Ajit Pawar said.
The address comes hours after party chief Sharad Pawar, too, dismissed the speculations earlier on Tuesday and said that "no meeting of MLAs has been called by the party over any possible crisis."
He also said that no meeting of NCP MLAs has been called by anyone. "The reports have no meaning. Somebody is trying to create news. I can say about NCP that all our colleagues are of one thinking of how to make the party stronger, and there is no other thought in anybody's mind," Sharad Pawar said.
The NCP chief further said that Ajit Pawar was busy with "work related to market committee elections."
Several leaders of the MVA have been pestered with questions about Ajit Pawar's speculated "next move" since last week, after his name did not feature in a case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in which he is one of the accused.
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut, too, had said on Monday that there is no threat to the NCP or the MVA and that Sharad Pawar had "assured Uddhav Thackeray that the MVA stands strong even if anybody from the party takes individual decisions."