Sharad Pawar surprised, says will go back to common people
Geetanjali Minhas | July 2, 2023 | Mumbai
In a huge blow to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), party supremo Sharad Pawar’s nephew, Ajit Pawar, Sunday switched loyalties once again, joined the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde) alliance and took oath as a deputy chief minister of Maharashtra on Sunday. He will share the post with Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP.
Ajit Pawar along with 29 NCP MLAs including Praful Patel, Chagan Bhujbal and Dilip Walse Patil, went to meet governor Ramesh Bais at Raj Bhavan afternoon to hand over the letter of support and thereafter took his oath.
Eight of his party colleagues – Chagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Dhananjay Munde, Aditi Tatkare, Sanjay Bansode, Dahamramrao Aatram and Anil Patil – also took oath as ministers.
In his letter the governor, Ajit Pawar claimed support of 40 NCP MLAs along with a bulk of MLCs. New developments are expected to have pushed up the NDA strength in the assembly from 170 to 210.
Notably, only last month, Sharad Pawar had appointed Praful Patel and his daughter, Supriya Sule, as working presidents of NCP.
Like chief minister Shinde earlier, Ajit Pawar in his act of rebellion has split NCP. He had earlier resigned from the post of leader of opposition in the assembly.
In less than three years, this is his third oath-taking ceremony in Maharashtra. In 2019 Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy CM when Fadnavis was sworn in as CM. Later, when the MVA government was formed with Uddhav Thackeray becoming the CM, Ajit Pawar was sworn in as deputy CM.
Earlier, during the Congress-led government when Prithviraj Chavan was the chief minister, Ajit Pawar was the deputy CM.
Last month, during NCP’s Foundation Day celebrations, Ajit Pawar had said that he wanted a party post and was not happy being the LoP. He had wanted the NCP to ally with BJP but his uncle Sharad Pawar was not in favour of the idea.
Speaking to the media Ajit Pawar said: “We have majority of NCP MLAs; we will contest polls on party symbol.”
Praising prime minister Narendra Modi, Ajit Pawar said, “Earlier, time was different. You all must have witnessed the past nine years, under his (Modi's) leadership, several works have been accomplished. Now, global leaders recognise India. Show me one leader who thinks about the national and not their personal interest.
“Several people will criticise [us] now a bit. We don't give value to that and we will keep working for the progress of Maharashtra and that is why we have taken this decision. Most of our MLAs are satisfied with this. We have supported this government with NCP. We will contest all elections in the name of NCP only.”
On his alliance with BJP, he said, “Previously NCP had seven MLAs in Nagaland and all of them went with BJP on the party's decision. If we can go with BJP in Nagaland then why can't we go with BJP here also? We will do everything for the betterment of the state.
“We have all the numbers, all MLAs are with me. We are here as a party. We have informed all seniors also. The majority is given importance in a democracy. Our party is 24-years-old and young leadership should come forward,” he said.
Sharad Pawar, who was in Pune at the time, said, “This is not googly, it is a robbery. Some of my colleagues have taken a different stand. I had called a meeting of all the leaders on 6th July when some important issue was to be discussed and some changes were to be made within the party but before that meeting, some of the leaders have taken a different stand. We will decide on action against rebel leaders.”
Pawar said that they will now work to strengthen the party again. The MLAs and all senior leaders will sit together to decide about any action against the rebel leaders.
He said, “I am not upset with anybody except Praful Patel and Tatkare. I had appointed them as general secretaries but they abandoned the guidelines of the party president and took the wrong path. They have no right to remain in that position.” Patel is known to be a close aide of Sharad Pawar.
He also said, “Two days ago, PM Modi said NCP is a finished party …he mentioned irrigation complaints and allegations of corruption. I am happy that some of my colleagues have taken the oath. From this (joining the NDA government) it is clear that all the charges have been cleared. I am thankful to him,” said Sharad Pawar.
Asked who will be the reliable face of the party, Sharad Pawar raised his hand.
With Ajit Pawar joining the NDA, he appointed Jitendra Awhad as the new LoP in the assembly. He also said that that his party will sit with Congress and Uddhav Thackeray to access the situation. “Our main strength is the common people, they have elected us... My endeavour will be to travel as much as I can within the state and the country and build relations with people,” said Sharad Pawar.
He also claimed that 80 percent MLAs will come back to his side.
NCP supporters smeared black ink on the posters of the party leaders who joined the NDA government.
Elections to the 288-member assembly are due next year.
Speaking to the media, chief minister Shinde said, “Now we have one CM and two deputy CMs. The double-engine government has now become triple engine with the speed of a bullet train for the development of Maharashtra. MVA is broken...”
Shinde also said that there is enough time to discuss about the seat sharing in the cabinet. “We have come together to develop Maharashtra. They (the opposition) got four-five seats in Lok Sabha elections, this time they will not manage to get even that number.”
Speaking on the developments, Sanjay Raut, leader of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction), said, “BJP was about to send them behind bars, so they are now taking the oath of office of ministers.”
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