Veteran politician Sharad Pawar on Tuesday announced that he has decided to step down as the president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after helming it for 24 years and stated that he will not contest any more elections.
“After this prolonged period of political career from May 1, 1960 to May 1, 2023, it is necessary to take a step back. Hence, I have decided to step down as President of the Nationalist Congress Party,” Pawar said after the launch of the second edition of his autobiography ‘Lok Maze Sangati’. He further said that he would continue working in the political, social and cultural life. “I have three years tenure remaining in Rajya Sabha. I will not contest elections now,” the veteran leader said.
Ajit Pawar, the nephew of Sharad Pawar supported the latter’s decision to step down from the party President post. “Pawar Sahab himself had said about the necessity of change in the guard a few days ago. we should see his decision in the light of his age and health also. everyone has to take a decision according to time, Pawar Saheb has taken a decision and he won’t take it back,” Ajit Pawar said.
Meawhile, Sharad Pawar recommended a committee of senior NCP leaders to decide on the future course of action. The committee will include Praful Patel, Sunil Tatkare, P C Chacko, Narhari Zirwal, Ajit Pawar, Supriya Sule, Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujabl, Dilip Walse-Patil, Anil Deshmukh, Rajesh Tope, Jitendra Awhad, Hasan Mushrif, Dhananjay Munde, Jaydev Gaikwad and chiefs of party frontal cells, Pawar said.
After his announcement, several NCP leaders and workers were seen chanting slogans asking Pawar to take back his decision.
Recalling his political career, the NCP supremo said, “Since the formation of the Nationalist Congress Party in 1999, I have had the privilege of being elected as its President, which today is in its 24th year. This entire journey of being in public life, which began on May 1, 1960, has continued unabated for the past 63 years, having served Maharashtra and India in various capacities during this period.
“I have three years tenure remaining in Rajya Sabha. I will not contest elections henceforth. In these three years, I will concentrate more on issues concerning to state and the country. I will not take any additional responsibilities. I started my political career on May 1, 1960. Yesterday we celebrated May Day. After this prolonged political career, one must think about stopping somewhere. One must not be greedy. I will never take the position of sticking to a post after so many years. Therefore, you might feel uneasy. But I have decided to retire from the post of the NCP chief, ” Pawar further said.
The four-time chief minister of Maharashtra has previously served as the Minister of Defence in the Cabinet of P V Narsimha Rao and as Minister of Agriculture in the Cabinet of Manmohan Singh.
He was the first and former president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which was founded in 1999, after separating from the Indian National Congress.
Speaking after the release of his autobiography, Pawar said that it was time for a new generation to guide the party and the direction it intends to take.
The NCP leader, however said that he would not take retirement from public life even after resigning from the party post.
“Even though I am stepping down from the post of president, I am not retiring from public life. Constant travel has become an integral part of my life. I will continue attending public events, and meetings. Whether in Pune, Mumbai, Baramati, Delhi or any other part of India, I will be available to all of you as usual. I will continue to work round the clock to solve the people’s problems,” he said.
Pawar’s decision came as a surprise for many of his partymen.
Party MP Praful Patel said, “We have requested Sharad Pawar ji with folded hand to withdraw the decision. I request him to withdraw the decision on behalf of all. The state and the country need his leadership.”
In an attempt to pacify agitated party workers, Patel said, “Repeating the same thing won’t solve any purpose and its meaningless. We senior leaders will talk to Pawar Saheb.”