Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s Ajit Pawar is set to be Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra once again after his dramatic betrayal and homecoming, sources in the party said on Thursday, hours before the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government’s oath ceremony. But not today.
Ajit Pawar will stay away from the first round of oaths today as Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is sworn in as Chief Minister along with six ministers at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park.
“I am not be taking oath today. Today six leaders will be taking oath from each party,” Ajit Pawar said after a meeting with uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar and other party leaders including Jayant Patil and Praful Patel.
On whether he would be Deputy Chief Minister again, he said: “There is no decision yet. The party will decide”.
Just two days ago, Ajit Pawar resigned as Deputy Chief Minister of the BJP-led Devendra Fadnavis government, which collapsed after failing to reach a majority.
Some reports suggest that Ajit Pawar may face competition for the number two post from Jayant Patil, who replaced him as an NCP legislature party leader after his sudden flight to the rival camp.
If he does manage the post again in a matter of five days, it will be a remarkable bounce-back for the 60-year-old “Ajit-Dada”, who shocked his party by taking the oath with Mr. Fadnavis at 7.50 am on Saturday. Just hours before that, he had attended a joint meeting of the Sena, NCP, and Congress to discuss their “Maha Vikas Aghadi” alliance. He had also been a constant fixture by Sharad Pawar’s side in the meetings of these parties.
The BJP, which is 40 members short of a majority in the Maharashtra assembly, had banked on Ajit Pawar to bring in NCP MLAs. But almost all NCP lawmakers remained with Sharad Pawar.
The Supreme Court, acting on the Sena-NCP-Congress petition challenging the surprise government formation, ordered Mr. Fadnavis to prove his majority immediately. With hardly any room to improve his government’s headcount in the assembly, Mr. Fadnavis resigned.