No split in NCP; Ajit Pawar still senior leader of party: Sharad Pawar

Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar. File photo: PTI

Pune: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Friday asserted that there was no split in the party and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar continues to be its leader.

He also said that some leaders have left the NCP by taking a "different political stand", but it cannot be termed as a split.

Pawar was talking to reporters at his hometown Baramati in the Pune district in the morning before leaving for Kolhapur, where he is scheduled to address a rally later in the day.

A day earlier, his daughter and party's working president Supriya Sule called Ajit Pawar a senior leader and MLA of the party. "Now, he (Ajit Pawar) has taken a stand that is against the party, and we have given a complaint to the assembly speaker and are awaiting his response," Sule, who is NCP's Baramati MP, told reporters.

When asked about Sule's statement that there is no split in the NCP and Ajit Pawar is a leader of the party, Pawar senior said, "Yes, there is no question about it. How can anybody say that there is a split in NCP? There's no question that Ajit Pawar is our party leader.

"What does a split in a political party mean? Split occurs when a large group in a party is separated at the national level. But no such thing has happened here. Some people left the party, some took a different stand...In democracy, it is their right to take a decision," he added.

Ajit Pawar and eight other NCP MLAs joined the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state on July 2.

Replying to a query, Sharad Pawar also said that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), comprising the NCP, Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress, will perform better than the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Maharashtra in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

When asked about a survey that projected the opposition INDIA alliance getting a good response against the NDA in the Lok Sabha polls, Pawar said, "I haven't seen the survey yet. But yes, we are talking with some survey organisations where we can clearly see that MVA will win maximum seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections."

The INDIA alliance is scheduled to hold its third meeting on August 31 and September 1 in Mumbai.

Talking about the onion export duty issue, the veteran leader said, "The government should reduce the 40 per cent duty imposed on onion exports. There is no benefit to onion growers. Everybody knows that onion is considered an arable crop. Hence, the government should look into this sensitive matter."

"I tried to contact some ministers in the Centre, but could not have a word with them. Talks about limitations on the export of sugar are also underway by the central government," he added.

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