Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 25
After yet another politically confounding day in Maharashtra, the only thing clear as of now is that the prevailing battle of nerves between the BJP and the NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena combine will not just decide who will form the government in the state but also who is the real ‘Chanakya’ (mastermind) of Indian politics—BJP chief Amit Shah or NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
Maharashtra’s newly-anointed Deputy Chief Minister and BJP’s newfound ally Ajit Pawar on Sunday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders and assured them of a stable government that will work hard for the welfare of the people of the state.
“I am in the NCP and shall always be in the NCP and Sharad Pawar Saheb is our leader. Our BJP-NCP alliance shall provide a stable government in Maharashtra for the next five years which will work sincerely for the welfare of the state and its people,” Ajit Pawar tweeted.
Terming his statement “false and misleading”, uncle Sharad Pawar retorted, saying: “There is no question of forming an alliance with @BJP4Maharashtra. NCP has unanimously decided to ally with @ShivSena and @INCMaharashtra to form the government. Shri Ajit Pawar’s statement is false and misleading in order to create confusion and false perception among the people”.
The BJP is banking on legal loopholes to ensure that the Devendra Fadnavis government wins the floor test. The party is of the view that Ajit Pawar when he surfaced at the Raj Bhawan on Saturday morning to take the oath of secrecy with Fadnavis, was still the leader of the legislative party of the NCP.
In other words, the BJP believes Ajit Pawar can still issue a whip to the NCP MLAs even though he has been sacked and replaced with Jayant Patil.
Ajit Pawar was removed as the NCP’s legislature unit leader hours after he took oath as the deputy of Fadnavis.
Several questions are raised around Ajit Pawar trying to establish his NCP credentials—is it of benefit to the BJP or the NCP? And can all this be happening without the guidance of BJP’s top strategists?
Besides the confusing signals from the Pawar family—reports have spoken of an “Op Lotus” to woo NCP, Congress and Sena leaders; the ‘Trojan horse’ on both sides; “blank papers” signed by NCP MLAs; Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s discomfort with the arrangement; and the reasons behind Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s ambition which opened doors for Pawar’s emergence as a facilitator.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on what the Supreme Court will say on the matter on Monday.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut has claimed the Sena-NCP-Congress combine has the support of 165 MLAs. BJP leaders also claim sufficient numbers to see Fadnavis through. Meanwhile, as life comes a full circle on Pawar, who he led a coup to become the state’s youngest Chief Minister four decades ago, the question is whether Maharashtra “wiliest” politician will have his way pitched against the BJP’s finest.
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