Mumbai: Resignation of Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on Tuesday afternoon, which led to the collapse of the four-day-old government headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), came amidst sustained persuasion by his family members and senior NCP leaders, sources said.
Party patriarch Sharad Pawar spoke to his prodigal nephew over phone in the morning asking him to revisit his decision to align with the BJP and stay in power. In the morning hours, Ajit Pawar met with Sadanand Sule, husband of his cousin and Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule, at a hotel in south Mumbai, sources said.
"Dada (as Ajit is fondly called) held discussions with Sule at the hotel on Tuesday morning. Pawar saheb also spoke to him over phone in the morning," they said.
After meeting Sule, Ajit Pawar went to 'Varsha', the official bungalow of Maharashtra Chief Minister, where the BJP held its core committee meeting. After the meeting, Ajit Pawar tendered his resignation citing "personal reasons".
The development resulted into the nascent BJP-led government losing its majority on the eve of the Supreme Court-monitored floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly, and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis resigning in afternoon.
On November 23 morning, Ajit Pawar, the then legislature party leader of the NCP, broke ranks with the party and lent support to the BJP in forming government.
However, members of the Pawar clan and senior leaders of the party kept up their resolve to win back the prodigal nephew of Sharad Pawar over the last four days. On Saturday, Supriya Sule had made an emotional appeal requesting Ajit Pawar to return to the NCP fold.
Besides his nephew Rohit Pawar, a string of political leaders had also requested the Baramati MLA to reconsider his move. "In fact, members of the Pawar clan have been persuading Ajit to return to the NCP since the last four days. The efforts have paid off," sources said.
Senior NCP leaders Jayant Patil, Dilip Walse Patil, Sunil Tatkare and Chhagan Bhujbal had also tried to convince Ajit Pawar. "We were trying (to convince Ajit). The family should not break," Bhujbal told reporters.
Dilip Walse Patil too said the NCP was hopeful that Ajit Pawar would change his decision to align with the BJP. "We had held a brief discussion with him (Ajit)," Jayant Patil, who heads the state NCP unit, had said.
Earlier in the day, Ajit Pawar stayed away from the function to offer tributes to the martyrs of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack at the Police Memorial here, which was attended by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Fadnavis.
Though Ajit Pawar was sacked as the legislative party head of the NCP, he continues to remain a member of the Sharad Pawar-led party.