It was an expected move, but the way former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar decided to make a comeback points to fault lines within the alliance and a split within the NCP between old timers and Ajit aides. He will be announced as deputy chief minister once again but may not take any portfolios until the session is over.
It is learnt that NCP chief Sharad Pawar gave in to his nephew’s demand in the evening after Ajit insisted on this through the day complaining about chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s style of functioning. Chavan, too, was informed only late Thursday evening about the development.
Pawar’s induction into the state cabinet just three days before the winter session of the state legislature and two months after his resignation, has also given the Opposition a handle with which to slam the government over the irrigation scam.
On Thursday evening, after Pawar indicated a comeback saying party colleagues were insisting on it, his camp started vocally demanding that he be sworn in on Friday. The state party unit, however, was clueless after even state party president Madhukar Pichad denied the reports as ‘rumours’.
Sources in the party said the Ajit camp was keen on a swift induction before the Session as he did not want to wait for the overall cabinet reshuffle likely in January and keep his induction directly in the hands of Chavan.
“The white paper on irrigation was submitted to the government. It has in detail explained the cost escalation of every project leaving no scope for doubt or confusion about the irrigation sector. So, there was no reason for him to stay out of the government,’’ said Ankush Kakade, NCP leader known to be close to Ajit.