Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former Maharashtra deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar, on Tuesday denied media reports claiming he had the backing of a section of his party MLAs in his rumoured bid to switch over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In a tweet Ajit Pawar issued a stout denial of the news reports, saying, “There are some media reports saying that I have convened a meeting of the (NCP) MLAs on Tuesday. This is completely false. I wish to clarify that I have not called a meeting of my party MLAs and office bearers.” The denial of the report in a vernacular daily by the NCP heavyweight comes just days after the BJP’s Maharashtra chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule brushed off speculations linking the former to the ruling saffron camp, saying he wasn’t aware of any such move.
He further clarified that the Sharad Pawar-led NCP hasn’t held any discussions with him in this regard.
“I don’t have any information about him joining the BJP or having talks with anyone in the party. He has not held any discussions with me,” Bawankule told sources.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Bal Thackeray) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said on Tuesday, “These are baseless rumours. I spoke with him (Ajit Pawar) and other (NCP) leaders this morning.”
“If those spreading such canards think that they can weaken the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) by resorting to such ploys, then they are mistaken,” the Shiva Sena (UBT) MP added.
Speculations have abounded lately of Ajit Pawar joining the BJP. Rumours of his saffron switch gained ground after he recently hailed the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi while adding he had full faith in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), in a remark seen as a departure from the Opposition line on the subject.
Backing the EVMs, Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition in the Assembly said if the devices were faulty, there would not be any Opposition-ruled states. He cited the governments of West Bengal and Telangana and other states as examples to support his argument.
“Personally, I have full faith in EVMs. If the EVMs were faulty, then we would not have any Opposition-led governments like in Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. It is not possible to manipulate EVMs as there are lots of checks and balances involved to ensure their efficacy,” Ajit Pawar told mediapersons.
“If somehow, it is proven that EVMs were manipulated, there will be big chaos in the country. I don’t think anyone would dare to do such a thing (challenge the efficacy of EVMs). Sometimes, some people cast aspersions on EVMs after losing elections. One has to respect the mandate of the people,” he added.