Dhananjay Munde, who backed Ajit Pawar, back in NCP fold; only 5 MLAs missing

Updated on Nov 24, 2019 08:59 AM IST

Ajit shocked the NCP rank and file as he quietly supported Bharatiya Janata Party (NCP) to form a government when Pawar was stitching together an alliance of Sena-NCP-Congress.

Dhananjay Munde at Y B Chavan Auditorium in Mumbai.(Hindustan Times)
Dhananjay Munde at Y B Chavan Auditorium in Mumbai.(Hindustan Times)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By

Thirteen years after Maharashtra saw a nephew break Shiv Sena, another nephew has become a headache for his uncle. In 2006, it was Raj Thackeray who split Shiv Sena after falling out with his uncle, Sena founder Bal Thackeray. Now, it is Ajit Pawar who has thrown the gauntlet at his uncle and Nationalist Congress Party founder, Sharad Pawar. How the senior Pawar — a veteran of many battles — counters the challenge, and who wins, remains to be seen.

Ajit shocked the NCP rank and file as he quietly supported Bharatiya Janata Party (NCP) to form a government when Pawar was stitching together an alliance of Sena-NCP-Congress. Significantly, many in the party wondered why Ajit would do this to become the deputy chief minister (CM), as he would have got the same post in the three-party government. However, recovering from the initial shock, NCP started to fight back against the revolt and succeeded to an extent as eight of its MLAs came back to the party by the evening while 12 are yet to reach Mumbai. Of these, seven-eight are in contact with the party, and only five are missing, claimed NCP leaders.

After Ajit was sworn in, realising that the situation could mean an endgame, Pawar immediately started damage control. He summoned his senior leaders and tasked them to get in touch with each of the party MLAs and ask them to reach Mumbai. Then he apprised Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray about what happened.

The Pawar-Thackeray duo also decided to put up a united front by addressing a press conference. Pawar presented three of the MLAs who were with Ajit in the morning but returned to the party later, at his press conference to ensure his legislators that he was in control of the situation. He also announced that the new government will lose the majority test and a Sena-NCP-Congress government will be formed.

Later, Pawar called an urgent meeting of all MLAs at YB Chavan Centre where the decision to remove Ajit as the legislature party leader was taken. The move was aimed at avoiding legal complications as well as isolating Ajit.

Getting back leader of the Opposition in the council, Dhananjay Munde, was a major step for the party as he was the only significant NCP leader who seemed to have gone with Ajit on Saturday. The party then elected Jayant Patil as the new legislative party leader.

State NCP chief Jayant Patil said, “Total 42 MLAs [of 54] were present while seven others could not reach on time. Five MLAs are still missing,” he said.

Pawar then sent three senior leaders, Dilip Walse Patil, Sunil Tatkare and Hasan Mushrif, to Ajit’s brother, Shrinivas Pawar’s residence, to convince him to return, but he refused to budge. “Our efforts to persuade Ajit Pawar will continue,” said a senior NCP functionary.

All party MLAs were taken to Hotel Renaissance, Powai.

“Even if the Governor has given them a deadline of November 30, this government will not be able to pass the floor test,” Pawar said. He repeated the same thing at the MLAs’ meeting and assured them the party is going to form the government with help from Sena and Congress, said a NCP legislator. Will Pawar manage to do so? Or will the nephew score over the uncle? We’ll find out in the next few days.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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