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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Ajit vs Sharad Pawar: Who will have the last laugh?

While many NCP MLAs attended both Ajit Pawar's swearing-in ceremony and the meeting convened by Sharad Pawar, their true allegiance can't be known before 30 November

Sharad Pawar, acting along the lines of his assurance to the INC, removed his nephew Ajit Pawar as the leader of the NCP legislative party and replaced him with Jayant Patil. This follows Ajit Pawar joining Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy and taking the oath of office in the presence of 50 MLAs this morning, defying his uncle’s parleys with the INC and Shiv Sena to form the Maharashtra government.

Ajit Pawar submitted a list of NCP MLAs who support the Fadnavis government to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. Soon after the news broke out, Sharad Pawar said that this decision was taken by Ajit Pawar in the personal capacity of the latter.

NCP’s internal politics turned interesting thereafter as 50 of its MLAs, including many from the 22 that Ajit Pawar had said had switched camps with him, attended the meeting convened by Sharad Pawar. It is now not clear whether the shock Ajit Pawar delivered to his uncle is sustainable. A source in the NCP said, however, that the real test would be taken by both the uncle and the nephew on 30 November during the floor test as not all MLAs were comfortable defying Sharad Pawar prematurely.

Top NCP sources said that a total of 50 MLAs were present in the meeting convened by Sharad Pawar. Only 4 MLAs, including Ajit Pawar, were absent from the meeting. All legislators will be shortly moved to a hotel in Mumbai, but they will have to be brought back to the Assembly during the floor test.

Apart from the NCP, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with his party MLAs at a hotel here. Earlier, Thackeray had hit out at his former ally BJP, saying, “What happened at Raj Bhavan this morning is a ‘surgical strike’ on democracy in Maharashtra.” By then, the Shiv Sena, NCP and the INC had wasted nearly a month since the declaration of results of the Assembly election in deciding how they will come together to keep the BJP out of power.

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