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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Ajit Pawar ‘splits’ NCP, sworn-in as Deputy CM for 3rd time in 3 years

Mumbai, July 2, 2023- In a major political upset, Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar on Sunday ‘split’ the Nationalist Congress Party to take oath as Deputy Chief Minister in the ruling alliance of Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.

Along with Pawar, senior leaders and MLAs like Chhagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse-Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Dhananjay Munde, Dharmarao Baba Atram, Aditi Sunil Tatkare, Sanjay Bansode, Anil Patil, were also sworn-in as ministers this afternoon.

This is the third time in three years that Pawar has taken oath as Deputy CM — first it was 2019 under the then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the two-man regime that lasted for 80 hours, later with the Maha Vikas Aghadi ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray, and now with Shiv Sena CM Shinde.

This is also the first time in its history that Maharashtra has got two Deputy CMs — Fadnavis and Pawar — after a hectic morning full of cloak-and-dagger drama.

Pawar has also given the Shinde ministry — which took office in June 2022 — its first woman minister — Aditi S. Tatkare — daughter of NCP MP Sunil Tatkare.

Reacting to the developments, NCP President Sharad Pawar told his close aides in Pune that the “party doesn’t support the swearing-in ceremony” and it is the individual decision of all who have left to join Ajit Pawar’s group.

The party has also claimed that 80 per cent of those who have joined Ajit Pawar shall return to the NCP fold “very soon”.

Shiv Sena (UBT) MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that almost all the ministers sworn-in today have serious enforcement inquiries pending against them.

“All those whom the BJP had threatened to throw in jail have now been inducted as Ministers,” said Raut.

The Shiv Sena-BJP top leaders have welcomed Ajit Pawar’s decision to join their government saying it will further strengthen them to give a strong regime in the state.

Shinde said that the move by Pawar will now give a ‘triple-engine’ to the government and the administration will move at the speed of Bullet Train for the progress of the state.

Raut added that some people have taken up the task of ‘cleaning up’ Maharashtra politics, and they are free to have their way.

“I have spoken with Sharad Pawar. He said ‘I am strong, we have the support of the people. We will rebuild everything again with Uddhav Thackeray’. Yes, the people will not tolerate this game for long,” declared Raut.

On a lazy Sunday morning, the fast-paced political developments were triggered after a routine meeting of Pawar and his supporting MLAs.

As the meeting was kept hush-hush, there was intense speculation in political circles but within hours, the decision was taken to dump the NCP and join the Shinde-Fadnavis regime.

This afternoon, Pawar, along with several NCP heavyweights, went to Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Ramesh Bais and hand over a letter of support signed by around three-dozen MLAs.

Soon afterwards, Shinde, Fadnavis, BJP state President Chandrashekhar Bawankule and other senior leaders of the ruling alliance also rushed to Raj Bhavan.

By post-lunch, the state’s political horizon had undergone a sea-change and more surprises were not entirely ruled out as Sharad Pawar is likely to reach Mumbai this evening. (Agency)

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