Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was on Wednesday unanimously re-elected as the legislature party leader of the NCP at the meeting of the newly-elected MLAs.
Apart from the party president Sharad Pawar, state unit chief Jayant Patil, senior leaders Praful Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal, and MPs Supriya Sule, Sunil Tatkare, Amol Kolhe and Shriniwas Patil also attended the meeting.
Ajit, nephew of Sharad Pawar, won Baramati Assembly segment for another term in the recent assembly elections with a record margin of 1,65,265 votes in Maharashtra.
With the NCP being the largest opposition bloc in the 288-member House, the party is obvious claimant for the post of the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.
Interestingly, Ajit had quit as MLA ahead of the October 21 assembly elections. The seasoned politician had then said that he was “hurt” because a case was registered against his high-profile uncle by the ED in the alleged Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam.
Ajit himself is also an accused in the case.
Jayant Patil proposed Ajit’s name as the legislature party leader, which was backed by MLAs Nawab Malik, Jitendra Awahad, Dhananjay Munde and Hasan Mushrif.
Ajit thanked the party legislators and assured them that he will be aggressive on issues like unemployment and agrarian crisis.
In his speech, Jayant Patil praised Sharad Pawar, Kolhe and Amol Mitkari for combing the state during electioneering.
Under the Pawar senior, the NCP bounced back from margins in the polls. The party bagged 54 seats, 12 more than the 2014 tally.
Jayant Patil also expressed satisfaction over the party winning seven seats in the Vidarbha region, the backyard of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The BJP suffered extensive damage in Vidarbha whereas the NCP and the Congress increased their collective tally by 11 seats.
“There is a scope to expand the NCP base in Vidarbha. Next time, we can win 17-18 seats there,” Jayant Patil said.
The NCP leader further said the party will work hard to expand its base in Urban areas, where the party lacks strength.
The poll results pulled down the BJP’s tally to 105 seats in the 288-member House from the 122 seats it had won in 2014 polls. Its ally Shiv Sena was restricted at 56, a loss of seven seats.
The Congress marginally improved its performance by adding two more seats to its kitty (44) from previous 42.