Split in NCP: Ajit Pawar Sworn in as Deputy CM in Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra Govt
Marking a vertical split in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), its senior leader Ajit Pawar joined the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government as deputy chief minister on Sunday.
The presence of NCP president Sharad Pawar and the party's working president Supriya Sule at the Opposition meeting in Patna had irked Ajit Pawar and his supporters, sources said.
While Ajit Pawar was sworn in as the deputy chief minister by Governor Ramesh Bais at the ceremony held in the Raj Bhawan, eight other NCP leaders took oath as ministers.
Those who were sworn in as ministers are Chhagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Dhananjay Munde, Aditi Tatkare, Dharmarao Atram, Anil Patil, and Sanjay Bansode.
Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar, who was present in the Raj Bhawan, said Ajit Pawar has resigned as the leader of opposition (LoP) in the Lower House and he has accepted it.
Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal and NCP working president Praful Patel were also present in the Raj Bhawan.
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule claimed 40 MLAs of NCP (out of the total 53) have supported the state government.
Elections to the 288-member state Assembly are due next year.
The political development comes a year after a revolt led by Shinde against the Shiv Sena (then undivided) led to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
On June 30, 2022, Shinde was sworn in as the CM with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis as the deputy CM.
BJP's Mumbai unit president and former state minister Ashish Shelar said, “CM Eknath Shinde gave support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save Hindutva. Today, NCP's major faction led by Ajit Pawar is joining the Shinde and Fadnavis government in a democratic way and extending support to Modiji."
Earlier in the day, Ajit Pawar met some party leaders and MLAs at his official residence 'Devgiri' in Mumbai.
Senior NCP leader Bhujbal and the party's working president Supriya Sule were among the leaders present at the meeting. However, Sule left the meeting early.
NCP president Sharad Pawar, who was in Pune, said he was unaware of the meeting.
After the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena snapped ties with long-term ally BJP.
Later, Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in as the chief minister and deputy CM respectively in a hush-hush ceremony at the Raj Bhawan, but their government lasted only 80 hours.
Thackeray subsequently tied-up with the NCP and Congress to form the MVA government.
In June last year, the revolt led by Shinde led to a split in the Shiv Sena and the collapse of the MVA government, following which Shinde became the CM with the BJP's support.
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