As leaders seek cabinet berth for Ajit, NCP says Uddhav, Sharad Pawar will decide
Ajit Pawar, the 60-year-old Nationalist Congress Party leader who had stunned his party by pledging its support to Devendra Fadnavis, should get a ministerial berth in the Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government, senior NCP leader Sunil Tatkare said on Wednesday.
“I want Ajit Pawar to get a cabinet berth. Not only I, many NCP leaders, all NCP leaders want Ajit Pawar to get a berth,” Tatkare told reporters shortly after taking oath as a legislator at the assembly’s special session.
Sunil Tatkare, a former Maharashtra minister in earlier editions of NCP governments, had played a key role in reaching out to Ajit Pawar after he grounded the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition last week.
Ajit Pawar, who was the leader of the NCP legislature party chief, pledged the support of his party’s 54 legislators that had helped the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis stake claim as chief minister and take oath on Saturday. Pawar also took oath as deputy chief minister at the quiet ceremony held in Raj Bhavan.
That decision was seen by the NCP’s first family to be a precursor to a split in the Pawar family and the party.
NCP boss Sharad Pawar, however, stopped most of the party legislators from siding with nephew Ajit Pawar.
Ajit Pawar eventually came around and decided to resign as deputy chief minister on Tuesday morning, a move that sealed the fate of the Fadnavis government.
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There have been many efforts to make the return as less awkward for Ajit Pawar as possible.
Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule welcomed him with a hug at the state assembly this morning when he reached the complex to take oath as a legislator and then touched his feet as a mark of respect.
NCP lawmaker Amarsinh Pandit spoke about how everyone, not just his party leaders, looked up to Ajit Pawar.
“It is wrong to say our efforts got Ajit Pawar back in the party. All other NCP leaders, and Congress and Sena MLAs wanted Ajit Pawar back. The older MLAs find support in Ajit Pawar, and look up to him. Everyone wanted him to be back,” he said.
Jayant Patil, who got Ajit Pawar’s post in the NCP legislature party after he turned rogue, did not comment on the demand for a cabinet berth for Ajit Pawar.
“Sharad Pawar, with Uddhav Thackeray will decide who gets ministerial berth,” Jayant Patil told reporters in response to questions about Ajit’s inclusion in the coalition’s cabinet.
“The parties want to ensure all parts of Maharashtra get representation, and uniform development, even the remote parts or underdeveloped part... even Vidarbha, Marathwada. The cabinet composition will be decided accordingly,” he said.