Tussle over office space between NCP factions | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Tussle over office space between NCP factions

Feb 09, 2024 07:10 AM IST

After the Election Commission declared the Ajit Pawar-led NCP as the real party, a tussle has begun over party offices in Maharashtra. The two factions are disputing control, with the Sharad Pawar faction claiming that most of the offices are owned by the Rashtrawadi Welfare Trust led by Sharad Pawar. The conflict has already resulted in a dispute over the NCP office in Pune, where followers of Sharad Pawar removed Ajit Pawar's name and symbols. The Ajit Pawar faction has threatened to take possession of the office.

Mumbai/ Pune: After the election commission adjudged the Ajit Pawar-led NCP as the real party on Tuesday, allotting it both the name and the watch electoral symbol, the two factions are engaged in a tussle seeking control over party offices across Maharashtra. A dispute has already broken out over the NCP office in Pune, but leaders from the Sharad Pawar faction say the Ajit Pawar faction would not be able to take over party offices as most of them are owned by the Rashtrawadi Welfare Trust led by Sharad Pawar himself.

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On Thursday, Deepak Mankar, unit head of the Ajit Pawar faction in Pune, threatened to take possession of the party’s office near the Civil Court metro station, saying, “Now that the election commission has given a verdict that the party and the symbol are with our faction, we will take possession of the office.”

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Mankar’s statement was prompted by events on Wednesday, when followers of Sharad Pawar gathered near the office, shouted slogans against Ajit Pawar and removed the cornerstone, posters and banners from the office bearing his name and the watch poll symbol. Some women workers allegedly vandalised office property, and the police provided security to the premises following a complaint.

The office is occupied by Prashant Jagtap, district president of the Sharad Pawar faction, who said he and not the party had entered into an agreement with the landlord. “It is not office property. I took it on rent to use it as an office. They (Ajit faction) should find a new office instead of trying to take over this one forcefully,” he alleged.

Senior leader from the Sharad Pawar camp Jayant Patil echoed him. “This is a party built by Sharad Pawar and people are aware of it. Now if they (Ajit Pawar camp) want to take possession of the office, it’s not possible as the lease agreement is between Jagtap and the landlord,” he told reporters in Pune on Thursday.

Sunil Tatkare, Maharashtra president of the Ajit Pawar-led NCP, however, clarified that they had no intention to take over offices of the Sharad Pawar faction.

It would not be easy for the Ajit Pawar-led NCP to take over party offices even if they want to do so as most of the offices are owned by the Rashtrawadi Welfare Trust led by Sharad Pawar. Its trustees include Ajit Pawar, Supriya Sule and Jayant Patil.

“The offices are not the property of the NCP per se, so they cannot stake their claim on them,” said a senior NCP functionary wishing to remain anonymous. Some party offices are owned or run by local leaders on rent, he added.

The Pune office is not the only point of conflict between the two factions. On July 4, 2023, the Ajit Pawar-led faction forcefully occupied a three-storey office building in Nashik, leading to vociferous protests by Sharad Pawar loyalists.

“Rashtrawadi Welfare Trust is the owner of the property which they have taken over. They should have vacated it by now. We can take legal action against them, but it is not our priority at the moment,” said a senior leader from the Sharad Pawar camp who did not wish to be identified.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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