Till last night, Uddhav Thackeray was all set to be the Chief Minister of Maharashtra with the Congress and NCP each getting the posts of Deputy Chief Minister. While all was going well for the ‘Maha-Vikas Aghadi’ till last night, something drastic happened in the NCP camp.
Ajit Pawar, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s right-hand man submitted his and the support of other NCP MLAs to the BJP. This prompted both to stake claim with the Governor. Although President’s rule was in effect in Maharashtra till early this morning, President Ram Nath Kovind revoked it at around 5:47 am, following which Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar took oath as CM and Dy. CM at around 8 am. BJP MLA Sunil Tatkare was the key person between BJP and NCP leader.
While there is no clarity as to how many MLAs have backed the BJP, sources indicate that the saffron party enjoys the written support of 36 NCP MLAs. Furthermore, 22 Shiv Sena MLAs are believed to be in contact with the BJP, and a split in Shiv Sena is more than evident.
Sharad Pawar had played a similar stunt in 1978 and usurped the seat of Maharashtra Chief Minister. Now, to see his nephew do the same to him is definitely going to be a heartbreak for the veteran. Many believed that Sharad Pawar and his NCP were the real winners in Maharashtra until recently, as they manoeuvred and flexed upon other parties to form an alliance with their ‘blessing’.
To be honest, this is probably the second time in the history of his own political career that Sharad Pawar was outfoxed by somebody. In 1991, when Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, Sharad Pawar was one of the front-runners for the post of Prime Minister, along with Madhav Rao Scindia, Arjun Singh and PV Narasimha Rao. Sharad considered Madhav Rao and Arjun as potential threats to his claim to the post, whereas he completely underestimated PV Narasimha Rao, believing him to be a walkover. The rest, as they say, is history.
However, the Amit Shah led BJP once again reclaimed their position in Indian politics as master strategists. It must be remembered that Sharad Pawar, only recently, had a 50-minute long chat with PM Modi in the parliament premises. While it was claimed that this was merely a meeting to discuss ‘farmer issues’, sources suggest that Maharashtra politics and the future of the state was also discussed. For anyone who observes Maharashtra politics keenly, it is quite easy to say that Ajit Pawar could not have dealt this massive blow to the Maha Aghadi on his own merit. Therefore, many believe this political masterstroke to be orchestrated under the guidance of Sharad Pawar himself.
However, NCP leader Supriya Sule has also put out a Whatsapp status claiming that the ‘Party and Family have split’. This is a significant statement, which indicates that Sharad Pawar was not kept in the docks by Ajit Pawar, who can therefore now said to have broken at least half of NCP’s legislative faction.
Supriya Sule, Senior NCP leader and daughter of Sharad Pawar's latest Whatsapp status,her office confirms statement as well pic.twitter.com/cRksZyrNJK
— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2019
Senior NCP leader Nawab Malik has made a rather peculiar claim. He has said that Ajit Pawar used the ‘attendance sheet’ of the NCP legislative meeting and showed it to the Governor as a memorandum of support towards the BJP. This would mean that the BJP enjoys the support of all 54 NCP MLAs. However, sources are emphatically suggesting that 36 MLAs have broken apart.
— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2019
If indeed Sharad Pawar was not kept in the loop, and if this act has been pulled off by the BJP on its own, not only can this be considered an epitaph moment for the NCP, but also the BJP’s single biggest game changer of the decade.