Nationalist Congress Party leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has been elected the new Leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, here on Monday.
State President and the NCP Legislative Party leader Jayant Patil proposed the name of Ajit Pawar for the august post which was announced in the House.
Pawar, 62, will now lead the combined Opposition Congress, Shiv Sena and other parties against the new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde – supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party – in the government.
The nephew of NCP President Sharad Pawar – who heads one of the state’s important political clans – Ajit Pawar is a cousin of incumbent Baramati MP Supriya Sule, and Rohit R. Pawar, MLA from Karjat-Jamkhed.
A B.Com graduate and a farmer by profession, Ajit Pawar is a former one-term MP from Baramati, a seven-time MLA and also 4-time ex-Deputy Chief Minister of the state in his 4-decade long political career.
In its 60-year history, Maharashtra has had only 9 Deputy CMs, and Ajit Pawar has held the post a record four times – Nov 2010 – Sep 2012, Dec 2012 – Sep 2014, Nov 23 – 28, 2019, Dec 2019 – June 2022 – the last during the Maha Vikas Aghadi government headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
His election came even as the Opposition wanted a tough and experienced leader of stature for the critical post given the recent major political upheavals that saw the collapse of the 31-month-old 3-party MVA alliance regime on June 30.
Known to harbour a secret desire for the top post of CM, Ajit Pawar is described as an opportunist, aggressive and no-nonsense leader, by his party colleagues, politicians and admirers.
He launched his political career with the sugar and banking cooperative sector in 1982, when his uncle Pawar Sr was emerging as a major force in state politics, and under his tutelage, soon became an important leader in his own right.
He became a Minister of State in 1991 and has handled all major portfolios like Finance, Rural Development, Agriculture, Energy, Irrigation, Water Resources, etc, hugging controversies along the political path.
In Nov 2019, he created a major political fracas when he was sworn-in as Dy CM, along with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as the CM, but the two-man government crashed in barely 80 hours, but later was ‘forgiven’ by all and rehabilitated as Dy CM in the Thackeray cabinet in Dec 2019.
Often known for making brazen statements and off-the-cuff remarks, Ajit Pawar is married to Sunetra, the couple have two sons, and the family lives in Mumbai and their native Baramati, in Pune district.