Asked if he would work under Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule as the national president as her name is doing the rounds for the top post, Patil said whatever decision the party takes, everyone has to accept it.
To a question, if he was one of the contenders for the national president, Patil said he doesn’t consider himself eligible to work at the national level. “I would like to continue working in the state. Our demand is that Pawar saheb continues as the national chief. So it is not appropriate to discuss other names,” he said.
Since general elections and state polls are scheduled to be held in 2024, Patil said, the party leadership order should remain undisturbed (with Pawar occupying the top post).
Patil was asked if had prior knowledge of Pawar’s decision, whether there was any rift between him and some top NCP leaders and if he was feeling sidelined in the party. “This is a big question (if he was feeling sidelined). I don’t think there is any need to answer it today,” he said.
The question about if Patil was feeling sidelined was also fuelled by initial inputs that a meeting of top NCP leaders was being held in Mumbai and Patil had not been invited to it. Patil told the media that he had a word with Supriya Sule, who said there was no such meeting.
In Mumbai, senior NCP leader Praful Patel denied that the state NCP chief was upset with the party.
Patil was in Pune to attend a meeting of his sugar cooperative factory, Patel said.
Pawar (82) on Tuesday dropped a bombshell by saying he is stepping down as chief of the NCP which he founded and helmed since 1999, but not retiring from public life.
The announcement, made at an event, stumped leaders and workers of the 24-year-old party, and many were seen crying and pleading with the Maratha strongman to reconsider his decision.
Ajit Pawar later on Tuesday announced his uncle will need two to three days to “think over” his decision.
Bhujbal on Wednesday said Pawar’s announcement to step down as the NCP chief came as a shock to everyone.
“We will persuade him to withdraw his decision,” he said.