Ajit Pawar new Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister, 8 other NCP MLAs defect


Nationalist Congress Party’s Ajit Pawar, along with eight party leaders, joined the Maharashtra government today. Pawar will share the Deputy Chief Minister’s post with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis.
Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse Patil, Aditi Tatkare, Dhananjay Munde, Hasan Mushrif, Dharmaraj Babarao Atram, Sanjay Bansode and Anil Bhaidas Patil also took oath on Sunday, the fourth swearing-in ceremony Maharashtra has seen in as many years.
Welcoming Ajit Pawar into the fold, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said, “Now we have 1 Chief Minister and 2 Deputy Chief Ministers. The double-engine government has now become triple engine. For the development of Maharashtra, I welcome Ajit Pawar and his leaders. Ajit Pawar’s experience will help.” According to sources, Ajit Pawar has the support of 43 out of the 53 NCP MLAs.
The move comes just days after Pawar publicly expressed his desire to step down as the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly. Earlier today, a group of NCP legislators met at Ajit Pawar’s Mumbai residence, where the party’s working president Supriya Sule and senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal were also in attendance. State party president Jayant Patil was not present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, Sharad Pawar told reporters in Pune that he was unaware of the meeting in Mumbai.
“I do not know exactly why this meeting has been called but being the leader of the Opposition, he (Ajit Pawar) has the right to call a meeting of MLAs. He does that regularly. I don’t have much detail about this meeting,” Pawar said.
The churn in the NCP comes a month after Sharad Pawar had resigned as party chief and then decided to take it back three days later as he “couldn’t disrespect the feelings of the masses”.
Ajit Pawar, who made a failed bid to align with the BJP in 2019 and was sworn-in as deputy chief minister in an early morning ceremony, had been vying for the post of state president to resurrect his dwindling stature in the party.