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Maharashtra's politics churns amid speculations of Ajit Pawar jumping ships

The four-time ex-Deputy CM of Maharashtra has dismissed all the rumours of him switching sides and even rubbished his rumoured bid to switch over to the BJP

Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar speaks to the media as he visits Serum Institute of India where the fire broke out, in Pune

Ajit Pawar

BS Web Team New Delhi

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Several media reports show a difference in the statements from leaders across the spectrum on Ajit Pawar's probable next move. Some even anticipating 'Eknath Shinde-kind' operation on the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

However, the four-time ex-Deputy CM of Maharashtra has dismissed all the rumours of him switching sides and even rubbished his rumoured bid to switch over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying that the BJP is playing 'mind-games'.

Refuting the reports, Ajit Pawar in a tweet said, "There are some media reports saying that I have convened a meeting of the (NCP) MLAs on Tuesday. This is completely false. I wish to clarify that I have not called a meeting of my party MLAs and office bearers."  

Pawar also reiterated that he is very much part of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and the MVA is working 'strongly as a united force'.

Reaffirming Ajit's statement, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar said that no meeting of NCP MLAs has been called by anyone, and added that whatever discussions are going on in the minds of the media are not there in "our minds".

"...There is no importance to all these discussions. The reports have no meaning. I can say about NCP that all our colleagues are of one thinking of how to make the party stronger, and there is no other thought in anybody's mind," the party chief said.

Further clearing his stance, Sharad Pawar said that party's state president, Jayant Patil, is busy with a local election in his region, while Ajit Pawar is busy with the work of the party and providing guidance to everyone.

The latest round of speculative reports has been fuelled by a potential adverse situation developing for the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance after the Supreme Court takes its decision on the disqualification of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and 15 other MLAs.

Reports have also suggested that the BJP may rope in Ajit Pawar to save the government and may even offer him the plum post of Chief Minister - something that he is believed to secretly covet.

However, Ajit Pawar has maintained that such reports are an attempt to 'defame' him. He then explained how even after Shinde group's 16 MLAs are disqualified, the current government of BJP+Independents is left with 149 MLAs, and hence the ruling alliance will have a simple majority

State Congress President Nana Patole also exuded faith in Ajit Pawar and said, "I have full faith that Ajit Pawar will not make any such move... He will remain with MVA."

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut also shared the same emotion and said that when he and party President Uddhav Thackeray met Sharad Pawar last week, the latter made it clear that the NCP will not decide to go with the BJP.

While Sena (UBT) ally and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) President Prakash Ambedkar jumped into the cauldron by claiming that there will be "some political explosions" in Maharashtra and India within the next two weeks or so, but preferred to keep it a mystery.

However, talking to reporters on the issue, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said that in politics such discussions happen. "In politics, discussions keep happening...some news should be enjoyed," he said.

While most BJP leaders claimed that they have no knowledge about the issue, state unit chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule dropped a broad hint saying "if the BJP ideology is acceptable to him, then he (Ajit Pawar) is welcome in our party".

Meanwhile, Ajit Pawar's cousin Supriya Sule hinted at "two big political explosions" in the next 15 days. When asked about the alliance rumors, she sidestepped the issue and said that "only Ajit Pawar can give the answer".

In the past

On 23 November 2019, Ajit Pawar was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra State with BJP without his party's consent.

He submitted papers with the signatures of NCP MLAs to the Governor of State and was on the post for less than 80 hours. Ajit Pawar became the Deputy CM with the shortest tenure in Devendra Fadnavis-led government.

However, on December 1, 2019, it was announced that Pawar would take over as Deputy Chief Minister for the Maha Vikas Aghadi administration after the commencement of the winter session of the state legislature on 16 December.

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First Published: Apr 18 2023 | 4:40 PM IST

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