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NCP Leaders To Meet On May 5 To Choose Sharad Pawar's Successor

Pawar on Tuesday dropped a bombshell by saying he is stepping down as chief of the NCP which he founded and helmed since 1999, but not retiring from public life.

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar
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A committee formed by Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar to decide on his successor will meet on Friday, a senior NCP leader said on Thursday. The meeting will take place at 11 am at the party office in south Mumbai, the leader said.  President Sharad Pawar announced that he is stepping down as the party president on Tuesday at the launch of his autobiography.

The committee members include Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule, his nephew Ajit Pawar, Praful Patel, Chhagan Bhujbal, among others. Pawar on Tuesday dropped a bombshell by saying he is stepping down as chief of the NCP which he founded and helmed since 1999, but not retiring from public life.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin spoke to Sule over phone to enquire about developments in the NCP after Sharad Pawar's announcement to quit as its chief, according to party sources. 

Political circles are abuzz with speculation on whether the next NCP president will be from the Pawar family - daughter Supriya Sule or nephew Ajit Pawar - or any other party leader. NCP workers and party leaders have demanded that Sharad Pawar reconsider his decision. Ajit Pawar on Tuesday said his uncle will need two to three days to "think over" his decision.

NCP's national vice president Praful Patel on Wednesday said Sharad Pawar has not relented despite repeated appeals from party leaders and supporters that he withdraw his decision to step down. The party committee, which Sharad Pawar himself set up on Tuesday to decide on his successor, did not meet on Wednesday, he said.

"If the situation arises, the committee will decide on Pawar's successor and the decision will be unanimous. He sought time to think over his decision after the party asked him to reconsider it, and till the final decision is arrived at, there is no question of deliberating on his successor," Patel said.

On speculation about Supriya Sule emerging as the choice for NCP's national president and Ajit Pawar as the Maharashtra unit chief, Patel said, "There is no vacancy. Whether Sharad Pawar remains president or not, he is the party's identity and soul." The party was trying to persuade Sharad Pawar to reconsider his decision, he said.

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