The drama over deputy chief minister’s post is far from over.
Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader PA Sangma’s statement in New Delhi on Wednesday that Bhujbal has expressed a wish to move to national politics further fuelled speculation that the party leadership would not allow the veteran leader a full term as deputy chief minsiter.
“If Bhujbal joins national politics, we will need his replacement,” said Sangma.
A cautious Bhujbal told journalists in Pandharpur that he would abide by the leadership’s directives but asserted that he was selected as deputy CM for next five years.
Though Bhujbal was selected as deputy chief minister two days ago, a large section of legislators is still opposing his appointment.
They want Ajit Pawar at the helm of the affairs.
A senior NCP leader, requesting anonymity, said that Sangma’s declaration indicated that NCP boss Sharad Pawar may think of replacing Bhujbal with his nephew Ajit, whom he denied the post earlier this week.
Ajit has distanced himself from the row saying that he did not enjoy enough support from party legislators--an admission very few political pundits are ready to buy.
The sources in the party said Ajit himself extended support to Bhujbal after he was told so by his uncle, Pawar senior, a day before the NCP legislators met in Mumbai to decide the candidate for deputy chief minister's post.
Hindustan Times had, on Monday, reported that Bhujbal would be selected for the post.
This was done even though Bhujbal did not enjoy support of most of the legislators, considering the fact that the NCP Chief did not want to send a message that the party gave top posts only to Marathas.
Bhujbal is a prominent Other Backward Classes leader.
However, the party chief has also kept a plan B ready fo the future.
“It is possible that Bhujbal would shift to Delhi after a couple of years and Ajit will take over as deputy chief minister but it is not yet decided how and when it would happen,” said a key NCP leader on condition of anomymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.