On anticipated lines, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Friday announced that he will continue to serve as the party chief, ending four days of suspense that had sent the party organisation into a turmoil since May 2.
At the same time, Pawar also cracked the whip by making it clear that he would make certain organisational changes in the NCP, assign new responsibilities and focus on creating new leadership for the future.
Addressing a crowded media conference, Pawar (83), who appeared jovial and relaxed, said that his decision to retire had evoked strong sentiments among the people, party workers, office-bearers and his colleagues, who were disheartened to hear it.
"I am overwhelmed with the love, trust and faith showered on me. Considering the appeals made by all of you, and honouring the decision of the committee constituted by the party, I am withdrawing my decision to retire," Pawar said amid a thunderous round of applause.
To a query on his recent statement that he was planning to 'turn the bhakri' (to rejig the party), Pawar laughed and said that now "that bhakri itself has ended".
Referring to the absence of his nephew Ajit Pawar from the presser, Pawar appealed that it should not be misconstrued "as he (Ajit Pawar) was present this afternoon to convince me along with the other leaders".
And to a question on some persons planning to leave the NCP, he flatly said that "we cannot stop those who wish to quit".
However, to repeated queries on his nephew, Pawar revealed that he had dropped hints to Ajit Pawar on his proposed move to retire, but on the latter's suspected plans to leave the NCP, the party supremo flatly said that "we cannot stop those who wish to quit".
Pawar recalled how in the past four days all his well-wishers and others unanimously appealed to him to reconsider his move, including leaders from various political parties from all over the country, soon after he dropped the bombshell during the release of his autobiography, "Lok Maze Sangati".
"All my well-wishers unanimously appealed to me to reconsider my decision. At the same time, the leaders from various political parties, my colleagues and well-wishers from all over the country, especially from Maharashtra, persuaded me to change my decision," said Pawar.
"'Lok Maze Sangati' means people are my companions! And this is the real secret of my long and satisfying public life. I cannot disrespect their (peoples') feelings," Pawar said.
"Your continuous support has been a real inspiration for me. I will be forever grateful to all of you, who have stood by me during success and all the challenges of my life. I reiterate that I accept to continue the responsibility as the party President," said Pawar, thanking all.
He also promised to work vigorously for the growth of NCP, and take its ideology and goals to the masses all over.
The NCP supremo's announcement came hours after the committee rejected his resignation and also appealed to him to continue in the same post, while all waited with bated breath for his response.
A visibly pleased state NCP President Jayant Patil said that everyone in the party is extremely happy with Pawar Saheb's decision to take back his resignation and continue as the party supremo.
"We are grateful that Pawar Saheb has respected the wishes of all the party leaders and workers to remain as the party chief and guide us all for the upcoming challenges," Patil said.
Immediately after Pawar's announcement, the NCP supporters erupted into joyous celebrations, lighting up fire-crackers, distributing sweets, shedding tears of joy, some impromptu breaking into a 'fugdi' dance and general revelry in Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur, Satara and other places.
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