At the November 17 meeting of the NCP's core committee in Pune, Ajit Pawar had openly favoured forging an alliance with the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra. The party's core committee meeting was presided over by Sharad Pawar.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s decision to side with the BJP has exposed the rift in the Sharad Pawar-led party. According to a report in The Indian Express, at the November 17 meeting of the NCP’s core committee in Pune, Ajit had openly favoured forging an alliance with the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra. The party’s core committee meeting was presided over by Sharad Pawar.
The IE report said that three more leaders — Sunil Tatkare, Dhananjay Munde and Praful Patel — also favoured an alliance with the BJP. Tatkare and Munde are believed to be close confidantes of Ajit Pawar. But most of the leaders at the meet opposed the move, prompting Sharad Pawar to turn down his suggestion.
It was after this meeting that the party formally announced its support to the Shiv Sena and Congress to form a non-BJP government in the state. NCP’s Maharashtra unit chief Jayant Patil and spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the party is in favour of forming a non-BJP government in Maharashtra.
Initially, Sharad Pawar had said that the mandate for the NCP-Congress alliance is to sit in the opposition. But he started exploring a post-poll pact with the Shiv Sena after the BJP expressed its inability to the Governor to form the government. He then took the initiative to bring the Congress onboard and successfully convinced the Congress’ central leadership to support the Shiv Sena and even join the government.
On November 18, when Sharad Pawar met Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi at her residence in Delhi, Ajit was also present in the national capital. He, however, didn’t accompany his uncle to Sonia’s residence.
Interestingly, the same day, Navneet Kaur Rana, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Amravati as an independent candidate in May this year, told reporters that the BJP and NCP will soon come together in Maharashtra to form the government. Rana was backed by the Congress and NCP in the general elections.
After Congress agreed to join the government, NCP formed a committee to work on the modalities. Ajit was a member of the team and held talks with the Congress and Shiv Sena as well. He attended all the meetings. On Friday as well, he attended all meetings of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress leaders to discuss the structure of alliance after obtaining the go-ahead from Delhi.
Citing a senior Congress leader, the report said that Ajit was uncharacteristically silent during the meetings on Friday. On Saturday morning after Ajit Pawar took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also told reporters that Ajit’s body language at the previous night’s meeting and his continuous engagements with the phone had appeared suspicious. He had even left the meeting underway. It went unnoticed because Sharad Pawar emerging from the meeting announced that Uddhav Thackeray will be the Chief Minister.