Deputy CM for fourth time: The return of Ajit Pawar


Mumbai: Monday marked the fourth time senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar was sworn in as Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister, the previous stint on the post lasting barely three days.

In an early morning ceremony on November 23, which caught many by surprise, Pawar was sworn in to the post after he rebelled against the NCP and joined hands with the BJP. He resigned on November 26, leading to collapse of the Devendra Fadnavis-led government.

Pawar was the deputy CM twice in the 15-year regime of Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra during 1999-2014.

When Ajit Pawar decided to quit politics two months ago citing the Enforcement Directorate move against his uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, some within his party said he may have been looking to get out of the veteran leader’s shadow.

This theory was back in circulation last month as in a move few thought possible, the 60-year-old hitched his horse to a different wagon, in the process becoming the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra once more.

His father worked with film veteran V Shantaram and the suddenness with which Ajit Pawar was sworn in along with Fadnavis looked like something straight from a Bollywood film.

A tough administrator and an immensely popular face in his largely rural Assembly segment Baramti in Pune district, Ajit Pawar is also a maverick leader who doesnt shy from being on a different page from his party, NCP sources said.

Fondly referred to as Dada, Ajit cut his teeth in politics at the grass root-level under the wings of Sharad Pawar in the early 80s.

Ajit Pawar took the plunge into electoral politics by contesting a by-election in 1991 from the Baramati Assembly seat and has since retained the family bastion seven times in a row.

His winning the October 21 Assembly election with the highest margin of 1.65 lakh votes only affirmed his iron grip on the constituency.

Appointed as NCPs legislature party leader before joining hands with the BJP, he first became a minister of state in June 1991, when Sudhakarrao Naik helmed the state government.

He has so far held portfolios like agriculture, water resources, rural soil conservation, irrigation and power and planning during his three-decade-old career.

The leader, who faced allegations in connection with the alleged irrigation scam and was also named in a money laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate, became the state’s deputy chief minister for the first time in November 2010.

Born in a farmer family on July 22, 1959 in Ahmednagar district, Ajit is married to Sunetra, sister of former Maharashtra minister Padmasinh Patil. The couple has two sons Parth and Jay.

Parth unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election earlier this year from Maval seat in Pune district.

Ajit Pawar’s cousin Supriya Sule is Lok Sabha MP from Baramati and nephew Rohit is an MLA from Karjat-Jamkhed in Ahmednagar. (PTI)