Congress targets Ajit, spares Sharad Pawar

Congress sources said party chief Sonia Gandhi believed that Sharad Pawar had been backstabbed by his nephew Ajit Pawar who tried to break the NCP by supporting the BJP. Photo/PTI

The Congress on Saturday targeted “opportunist” Ajit Pawar for “ripping-off” the democratic mandate of the people of Maharashtra but spared NCP boss Sharad Pawar from criticism over the surprise political developments in Maharashtra.

Congress sources said party chief Sonia Gandhi believed that Sharad Pawar had been backstabbed by his nephew Ajit Pawar who tried to break the NCP by supporting the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra by accepting the post of the deputy chief minister.

As the news of Devendra Fadnavis assuming the office of chief minister trickled in on Saturday morning, Congress leaders reacted with shock, with a section citing the history of Sharad Pawar's “betrayal”, having toppled Congress governments way back in 1978.

However, when Pawar distanced himself publicly from Ajit Pawar's actions and made clarificatory calls to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Congress leadership, the three political parties—Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP—closed ranks to take on the BJP at every forum.

Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray addressed a joint press conference in Mumbai where the NCP supremo paraded three MLAs who had attended the swearing-in ceremony of Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar and Raj Bhawan but had returned to the party's fold.

Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal addressed a separate press conference in Mumbai and declared that the three parties—Sena-NCP-Congress—will remain together.

Congress kept up the attack on Ajit Pawar, dubbing him an opportunist, and the BJP by accusing them of establishing an “illegitimate” government in Maharashtra.

“BJP and Ajit Pawar have together acted like the ‘Duryodhan’ and the ‘Shakuni’ to rip-off and cheat a democratic mandate given by people of Maharashtra,” Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said here.

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