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Ajit Pawar returns to NCP, may find place in new Maharashtra cabinet

By Faisal Malik, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON NOV 28, 2019 12:30 AM IST

Ajit Pawar returned to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) fold on Wednesday after a late-night meeting with his uncle and party chief Sharad Pawar at the latter’s south Mumbai residence. The former deputy chief minister, who had caused a political flutter after switching sides to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was welcomed by NCP leaders, many of who also demanded that Ajit Pawar be inducted into the new Uddhav Thackeray government.

“This is Ajit Pawar’s ghar vapsi. Pawar saheb will decide if he [Ajit Pawar] will get a cabinet berth,” said senior NCP leader Dilip Walse Patil after a party MLAs’ meeting, which was attended by Ajit Pawar too.

“Everyone is happy that Ajit dada is back… All the stress and strain between us is now a thing of the past. MLAs have not demanded anything at the meeting, but their feelings about him [Ajit Pawar] are that he should become the deputy chief minister. This has also been conveyed to Pawar saheb. As a friend, I want to see Ajit dada achieve greater things,” said senior NCP leader Sunil Tatkare, who is considered to be a close aide of Ajit Pawar.

Ajit Pawar, too, appeared calm and energetic on Wednesday, when he addressed the meeting held at YB Chavan Centre at Nariman Point.

“Whatever has happened leave it behind. I do not feel like disclosing all the details of what has happened in the past few days, although I have already revealed it to a few individuals. We will have to leave the past behind and go ahead together,” Ajit said while addressing the legislators.

“Chief minister will take oath tomorrow [Thursday]. I informed all our MLAs about the programme and told them that all of us have to be present there,” Ajit told mediapersons after the meeting.

According to NCP leaders, who did not wish to be named, Sharad Pawar has not yet disclosed to anyone who will be the deputy chief minister. “As per the norm, leader of the party in the legislature should become deputy chief minister. Jayant Patil is still our leader in the legislature. It now depends on Pawar sahib who he picks for the post. Appointing Ajit would send a signal that his rebellion had the blessings of the party leadership,” said a senior NCP leader, on condition of anonymity.

Ajit Pawar had revolted against the party and joined hands with BJP on Saturday, after which he was sworn in as the deputy chief minister along with Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister. However, most NCP MLAs eventually returned to party chief Sharad Pawar’s side, and with the Supreme Court directing Fadnavis government to face an open-ballot floor test, Ajit Pawar resigned from the post on Tuesday. His resignation was followed by Fadnavis, too, quitting as the chief minister.

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