“All MLAs are with me, we’re here as a party”Ajit Pawar after joining Maharashtra government as Dy CM

2 July, 2023 | Srishti Ruchandani

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Ajit Pawar, has sworn in as the Dy CM of Maharashtra. He joined 8 other NCP legislators in joining the ruling NDA government in the state. This move has caused a split within the NCP.

Ajit Pawar, the head of the NCP, was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra along with eight other party MPs in an unexpected turn of events that in some ways resembled the split in the Shiv Sena from over a year ago.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) experienced an internal division as senior leader Ajit Pawar joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) along with a group of MLAs. Ajit Pawar said all MLAs are with him and they have joined the Shiv Sena-BJP government as a party.

“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-year old and young leadership should come forward,” Ajit Pawar said after taking oath as Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

The Deputy CM further said that a few other ministers would be added in the next expansion.

“We took a decision to come with the Shinde-Fadanvis govt with almost all MLAs of NCP. We took the oath and a few other ministers will be added in the next expansion”, Ajit Pawar said.

State Governor Ramesh Bais administered the oath to NCP Leader Ajit Pawar as Maharashtra’s second Deputy Chief Minister.

After the dramatic turn of events, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that the double-engine government in the state has now become “triple-engine and it will run like a bullet train”.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde stated that the state’s double-engine government has now become “triple-engine and it will run like a bullet train” following the dramatic turn of events.

CM Shinde said, “Now we have 1 Chief Minister and 2 Deputy Chief Ministers. The double-engine government has now become a triple-engine and now it will run like a bullet train. For the development of Maharashtra, I welcome Ajit Pawar and his leaders. Ajit Pawar’s experience will help strengthen Maharashtra.”

According to party sources, Ajit Pawar, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, is backed by more than 40 members of the State Legislative Assembly and more than six members of the Legislative Council.

Talking to the media in a joint press conference with Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, NCP leader Chhagan Bhujabal refuted claims of splitting the party and said that they have joined the government as its third party.

“We have joined the government as its third party. Few people are saying that we have split the party but that is not correct, we have come here as NCP”, Bhujabal said.
Party chief Sharad Pawar slammed Ajit Pawar’s move and said, “this is not ‘googly’, it is a robbery” and that he was worried about the future of those who left the party.

Talking to reporters after his nephew and eight other party leaders rebelled and joined the Shiv Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra, Pawar said he was not worried about what happened and will work to strengthen the party again.
He also hinted at action against party leaders Praful Patel and Sunil Tatkare, saying they did not follow their responsibilities. Sharad Pawar said some of those who joined the Shiv Sena-BJP government were facing ED cases.
“Some of my colleagues have taken a different stand. I had called a meeting of all the leaders on July 6, where 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.”
Sharad Pawar said that in the next two-three days, they will sit with Congress and Uddhav Thackeray to access the situation. “Our main strength is the common people, they have elected us”.
Apparently referring to Ajit Pawar who faced accusations related to the alleged irrigation scam, Pawar took a dig at BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “it is clear that all the charges have been cleared”.
“Two days ago the PM had said about NCP… He had said two things in his statement that NCP is a finished party. He mentioned irrigation complaint and allegations of corruption. I am happy that some of my colleagues have taken oath. From this (joining the NDA government) it is clear that all the charges have been cleared. I am thankful to him,” Pawar said.
Sharad Pawar said he had dealt with splits earlier and rejuvenated the party.
“This is not a new thing. The party I was leading in 1980 had 58 MLAs, later all left and only 6 MLAs left, but I strengthened the numbers and those who left me lost in their constituencies,” he said.
The former Maharashtra Chief Minister said he has been receiving calls from other opposition leaders including Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over developments in Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray faction leader and spokesperson Anand Dubey said that ‘we should not forget that BJP has a history to stab in the back.’
“The leaders who were in the opposition and used to criticise the government until yesterday, have joined the same government today. Today BJP wanted Ajit Pawar, so they took him, but we should not forget that BJP has a history to stab in the back”, Dubey said.
Uddhav Thackeray Faction MP Sanjay Raut said that Maharashtra will get another CM in a few days.
“We already knew that this was going to happen. Eknath Shinde and the 16 MLAs that went with him will be disqualified. Maharashtra will get another CM in a few days”, MP Sanjay Raut said.
This dramatic turn of events took place a year after Eknath Shinde revolted out of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government of Maharashtra along with 39 MLAs and split Shiv Sena, National Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar along with 8 NCP MLAs sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister and Ministers respectively, of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Maharashtra breaking the MVA opposition alliance.
Notably in 2019, the Shiv Sena ended the two-decade-old alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra with the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party.
But the MVA government collapsed in June 2022 after Eknath Shinde split the party and joined hands with the BJP to form a new government.
Eknath Shinde was later sworn in as Chief Minister of Maharashtra on June 30, 2022, and BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Deputy Chief Minister.
The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, which fought the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections together, won 161 seats (BJP – 105 and Shiv Sena – 56). The NCP got 54 seats while the Congress bagged 44 seats.
According to sources, MLAs accompanying Ajit Pawar to Raj Bhawan were upset with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s ‘unilateral’ decision to share the stage and ally with Rahul Gandhi at the opposition unity meet in Bihar’s Patna last month.
Sharad Pawar will sit to decide about any action against the rebel leaders.
“I will never say that my home has split, this issue is not regarding my home, this is the issue of people. I am worried about the future of those who left. I want to give the credit for this to PM Modi. Two days ago, he had made statements and after that statement, some people started feeling uneasy, some of them were also facing ED actions,” he added.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said, “BJP is in power in the centre and misusing it. BJP is carrying out ‘Operation Lotus’…ruining the politics of the country…BJP can do anything for power, they either scare members of other parties using ED & CBI or else will offer them money…people of Maharashtra is condemning this and BJP will never come back to power in this state”.