Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s senior leader Ajit Pawar on Sunday joined Eknath Shinde-led government in Maharashtra and took oath as the deputy chief minister of the state.
In a dramatic turn of events, Pawar, along with nine MLAs, reached Raj Bhawan to meet Governor Ramesh Bais.
According to sources, MLAs accompanying Ajit Pawar to Raj Bhawan were upset with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s ‘unilateral’ decision to share the stage and ally with Rahul Gandhi at the opposition unity meet in Bihar’s Patna last month.
“The country is progressing under the leadership of PM Modi. He is also popular in other countries. Everyone supports him and appreciates his leadership. We will fight the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections with them (BJP) and that is why we have taken this decision,” Ajit Pawar said at a press conference later, explaining the big switch.
Eight other NCP MLAs, including senior leaders Chhagan Bhujbal, Dhananjay Munde and Dilip Walse Patil, took oath as ministers along with Ajit Pawar at a ceremony in Raj Bhawan.
Pawar was later administered oath as the second deputy chief minister of Maharashtra.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was also present on the occasion.
Of the 53 NCP MLAs in the state, Ajit Pawar claims the support of 40, four more than the number required to escape the provisions of the anti-defection law.
The Maharashtra Cabinet will now have nine ministers from the BJP, nine from Shiv Sena and nine from the NCP, including the chief minister and two deputy chief ministers. It can have a maximum of 43 members.
“Now we have one chief minister and two 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,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde told ANI.
Earlier, a meeting of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders was called at the residence of NCP leader Ajit Pawar on Sunday and later Ajit Pawar along with other party leaders reached the Raj Bhavan.
More details to follow.
(with inputs from ANI)