National Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister of the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government on July 2. The oath-taking ceremony took place at Raj Bhavan in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. This move came after a secret meeting between Ajit Pawar, senior BJP leader Amit Shah, and Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Eknath Shinde in Delhi.
Reports suggest that a total of nine NCP leaders also took oath as ministers in the Maharashtra government following Ajit Pawar's induction into the NDA government. The sudden decision has left many speculating about the motives behind this move and the potential impact on the political landscape of Maharashtra.
The development comes on the heels of dissatisfaction among certain NCP MLAs, including Chhagan Bhujbal and Dhananjay Munde, who were reportedly upset with NCP chief Sharad Pawar's unilateral decision to share the stage and ally with Rahul Gandhi at the opposition unity meet in Patna, Bihar. There have also been rumors circulating that Ajit Pawar expressed disappointment after being denied the position of party state unit chief.
Originally scheduled for July 6 with NCP chief Sharad Pawar's presence, the meeting was rescheduled, prompting Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde to rush to Raj Bhavan and join Ajit Pawar and other NCP leaders. Notably, the state party president Jayant Patil was absent from the meeting, while party working president Supriya Sule was reported to be in attendance.
The significance of this meeting lies in Ajit Pawar's recent statement expressing his willingness to step down as the Leader of the Opposition and focus on party organizational responsibilities. The matter was discussed during the NCP's national executive meeting in Delhi on Wednesday, with a decision expected to be reached within two months.
While NCP president Sharad Pawar, who was in Pune at the time, claimed to be unaware of the Mumbai meeting, he acknowledged Ajit Pawar's authority as the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly to convene a meeting of legislators.
The closed-door meeting, held at Ajit Pawar's official residence, "Devgiri," was attended by senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, working president Supriya Sule, and a select group of MLAs.
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