The suspense continued over whether NCP leader Ajit Pawar — who resigned as the Deputy Chief Minister in the BJP-led Government and returned to the parent party on Tuesday — would find a place as Deputy Chief Minister or as a Cabinet-ranked Minister in the Uddhav Thackeray Government till late on Wednesday night, ahead of Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony.
Though the leaders of the newly-formed Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) met and discussed issues relating to the Government formation on Wednesday evening, there was no word as to whether Ajit would get any portfolio.
Ajit made his presence felt in both the NCP and MVA circles on Wednesday as he met party’s newly elected MLAs, spoke to them formally and also interacted with the Congress and Shiv Sena leaders during the day. Sources in the MVA said there was no opposition to him being inducted either as a Cabinet Minister or even the Deputy Chief Minister.
On his part, Ajit indicated that he would not be averse to be part of the new Government. “It is for party president Sharad Pawar to take a final decision,” he said.
Ajit, however, denied that he had ever rebelled against the NCP leadership or had been removed from the party. “I have always been with the NCP. I had not been removed from the party at any stage,” he said. In the normal course, senior NCP Jayant Patil — who was elected as the party’s Legislature group leader in place of Ajit after the latter switched sides — is to become the Deputy Chief Minister.
Earlier in the night, senior NCP leader Praful Patel chose not to comment on the choice of the NCP’s Deputy Chief Minister choice. “Wait till tomorrow, you will get to yourself,” Patel said.
Meanwhile, several state NCP leaders have been lobbying with Sr Pawar for Ajit being made the Deputy Chief Minister in the new Government.
“Though it is certain that Ajit will be a Minister in the new Government, it is Sharad who will have to take a call. Sr Pawar may once again consult MVA head Uddhav Thackeray and Congress leaders before nominating Ajit for the DCM’s post. One should not be surprised, if Sr Pawar does nominate him as the DCM,” a senior leader close to the NCP chief said late in the night.
Thursday, 28 November 2019 | TN RAGHUNATHA | Mumbai
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