‘How can he take such an arbitrary decision?’

‘He is our mother, our father, an institution that we all have looked up to.’
‘He just can’t leave us and expose us to harsh sunlight.’

Nationalist Congress Party leader Jitendra Awhad, who represents Mumbra-Lakwa in Thane district in the Maharashtra assembly, is the most vocal NCP leader to oppose Sharad Pawar’s resignation as national president.

“We will make him change his decision,” Awhad, who has known Pawar for almost 37 years, tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

While you have resigned as the NCP’s national general secretary to try and pressurise Sharad Pawar to withdraw his resignation as NCP president, what would be your stance if Mr Pawar remains firm on his decision after the party executive council on Friday, May 5?

That is not a decision (to resign as party president) for Sharad Pawar saheb to take. That decision has already been taken by the nation and crores of his supporters in Maharashtra and India.

There are people sending the message of their hurt feelings from Punjab, Kerala, Bihar, the North East, West Bengal, Haryana, etc, beseeching him to withdraw his resignation.

What if he insists on stepping down? He has apparently stated that age is catching up with him and so he has taken the decision.

In politics, age is just a number. There is no age for retirement in politics. There will be a flood of resignations if he remains firm on his decision.

What do you have to say about reports that claim the NCP could split if Mr Pawar doesn’t withdraw his resignation?

For every NCP worker or leader, Sharad Pawar is the NCP and the NCP is Sharad Pawar. The two are inseparable.

What message are you trying to convey through your resignation as NCP general secretary?

Naturally, he (Sharad Pawar) should understand our feelings for him. How can he take such an arbitrary decision, saying ‘I am leaving’? How can he leave us?

There are clearly two distinct views within the NCP about his resignation: The one led by Ajit Pawar believes that — and he was quite vocal about it before the media when his uncle decided to resign — a time comes in the life of any party when such decisions are made and the other equally vocally insisting — including you and incumbent state NCP chief Jayant Patil — that Mr Pawar should continue as the national president. How do you explain these two opposing views within the NCP?

Everybody knows that a time comes when such decisions have to be made, but if the time has to come tomorrow, then why do you want to compel such decisions to happen today.

Are you saying that someone compelled Sharad Pawar to resign?

Can you tell your mother ‘aai tu udhya marnar aahes tar aajach mar na? (we know life on earth is finite and we know you are going to die one day; are you going to tell your mother that instead of dying someday why don’t you die today?).’ This is not fair.

Reports suggest that Mr Pawar is firm about his decision. Are there any chances he will reconsider his decision?

He will not resign. He can’t resign. We will make him change his decision.

What compelled Sharad Pawar to take such a decision? Why would he suddenly make such an announcement?

I don’t know the reasons, but I can tell you that everybody is telling him that you have united the Opposition (in Maharashtra and India) and whether you want to become the prime minister or not is another question, but the entire Opposition has rallied round you and now you can’t just say that you are resigning. That will lead to loss of credibility in the national arena. You can’t leave a task unfinished.

Based on your understanding of knowing him for almost four decades, what is going on in his mind? Why did he resign?

I would like to keep mum on this, but my personal view is he has no right to resign. He is not just an individual; he is our mother, our father an institution that we all have looked up to.

We have been brought up and mentored by him under his leadership and shadow and now he just can’t leave us and expose us to harsh sunlight.

What feedback are you getting from NCP supporters, MLAs and leaders after his resignation?

75-80 per cent of people are not willing to accept his resignation under any circumstance.

So, there are 20-25 per cent people within the NCP who would want him to stick to his decision to resign.
Ajit Pawar on the day his uncle resigned was in the forefront of supporting his uncle’s decision saying that a new NCP national president would be mentored under Pawar’s leadership.
Wouldn’t that help the NCP have a clear line of succession?

Try to understand the stature of Mr Pawar. Is there any person in the NCP or in other parties of his stature and political standing? That is all and that’s why we are saying the NCP is Pawar and Pawar is the NCP.

What would have compelled Sharad Pawar to take such a step?

I don’t know.

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