Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Wednesday took a veiled dig at his uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, lamenting that the state would have a Chief Minister from Nationalist Congress Party only till date, had the party not conceded the top post to Congress during the 2004 Vidhan Sabha election when NCP had more MLAs.
While addressing party legislators and other workers in Bandra, Ajit Pawar said, “In the 2004 Vidhan Sabha election, NCP had more MLAs than Congress. Had we not given Chief Minister post to Congress at that time, till date, Maharashtra would have had a Chief Minister only from Nationalist Congress Party”.
NCP bagged 71 seats while Congress had secured 69 seats in the 2004 legislative elections. While recalling a meeting in 2017 at Varsha Bungalow, Pawar said, “On the orders of the senior leaders of the party, Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayant Patel, I and several others had gone there. Several leaders from BJP were also there. There were discussions among us over cabinet portfolio allocation and positions of Guardian Ministers. But later our party took a step back”.
Defending his decision to join the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government, the leader of Ajit Pawar faction, Praful Patel, who spoke before him said, “What is the objection to going with Bharatiya Janata Party?” “When we could accept the ideology of Shiv Sena, then what is the objection to going with BJP? We have joined this alliance as an independent entity,” he said.
“Peoples Democratic Party Chief Mehbooba Mufti and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah went with BJP in Jammu and Kashmir and they are now part of the joint opposition,” Patel said. In 2015, BJP entered into an alliance with PDP as no party could get a majority in the 2014 Assembly polls in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. However, in 2018, BJP pulled out of its coalition government with the PDP.
He said they have joined the Eknath-Shinde government for the sake of the nation. “I went to the joint opposition meeting in Patna with Sharad Pawar, and I felt like laughing when I saw the scene there. There were 17 opposition parties there, 7 of them have only 1 MP in the Lok Sabha and there is one party that has no MP,” he said, referring to an Opposition meeting held in Patna last month.
“They claim they will bring change… This decision (of joining NDA) we have taken is for the nation and our party and not for personal gain,” Patel claimed. The crisis in NCP is escalating with two factions calling separate meetings today in an apparent show of strength.
NCP suffered a split on Sunday with Ajit Pawar joining the Eknath Shinde-BJP government along with eight other MLAs.