A day after resigning as MLA and remaining incommunicado for over 20 hours, an emotional Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar on Saturday said that he was being defamed and allegations of scams were levelled against him before every election. The inquiries against him keep on continuing with no end in sight.
“In 2014, I was blamed for the ?70,000-crore irrigation scam, and now it is ?25,000 crore. The inquiry on the allegations in the irrigation scam has been going on for five years. Just like others, we too are doing our work. How long am I supposed to suffer? We are humans too. We too have emotions,” he said fighting back tears at a press conference at the Y.B. Chavan Centre here.
Mr. Ajit Pawar, a former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, was joined by senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, NCP State president Jayant Patil, Leader of the Opposition Dhananjay Munde and NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad in a show of solidarity.
He, along with other directors of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, has been named by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the alleged ?25,000-crore scam. His uncle and NCP president, Sharad Pawar, too has been named, despite never being a director of the bank. “Had my name not been on the director board of the bank, then this case itself wouldn’t have come up ever. It came up because of me, and Sharad Pawar had to suffer,” he said.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar addressing press conference in Mumbai on Saturday. Photo: Emmanual Yogini
“I apologise for hurting feelings of leaders, workers and sympathisers for resigning without discussing them. I knew that they would stop me had I discussed it with them. I had been thinking of resigning for the past three days due to allegations of scam. But elections were staring at me. I was upset because Sharad Pawar was named in this case despite having no relation whatsoever with the case. He was named only because of his relationship with me,” he said. He said he wondered how a bank with deposits worth ?11,000 crore could get involved in a scam worth ?25,000 crore.
Mr. Amit Pawar said he did not inform even the NCP president about his decision and was at a relative’s residence as he needed time to think. At a press conference in Pune on Friday night, Mr. Sharad Pawar had said that Ajit had spoken to his family members about quitting politics and going back to agriculture and industry.
On Saturday morning, he held a meeting with the NCP chief at the latter’s residence in south Mumbai along with other members of the family. NCP leaders were kept out of the meeting. After the meeting, Mr. Sharad Pawar said the decision on whether to continue or quit politics would be announced by his nephew himself.
Asked if he would contest the Assembly election or quit politics, the former Deputy Chief Minister said, “Sharad Pawar told me that you will have to do what I tell you. I could not meet his eye and nodded.”
Rubbishing reports of a family feud, Mr. Ajit Pawar said, “A feud was talked about when Supriya [Sule] entered politics, then Parth [Pawar] contested and now when Rohit [Pawar] may contest. It is all baseless. Sharad Pawar is the head of the family and we work as per his directions.”