Devendra Fadnavis takes oath as Maharashtra CM, Ajit Pawar as Deputy CM

PTI

Mumbai: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari flanked by newly-appointed Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis and his Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, during an oath-taking ceremony, in Mumbai, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Mumbai: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari flanked by newly-appointed Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis and his Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, during an oath-taking ceremony, in Mumbai, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (PTI Photo)

BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday returned as Maharashtra CM, propped by NCP’s Ajit Pawar, who took oath as deputy chief minister, even as NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the decision to side with Fadnavis was his nephew’s personal choice and not that of the party.

Not many had an inkling of the early morning swearing in ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan, which some called a “clandestine” affair, a far cry from Fadnavis’ first such ceremony in 2014 in the packed Wankhede Stadium in presence of thousands of supporters.

The oath taking was held soon after the President’s rule, imposed on November 12, was revoked. President Ram Nath Kovind signed the proclamation for revocation of the central rule and a gazette notification to this effect was issued at 5.47 am.

The swearing in ceremony came as a political shocker, hours after Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray emerged as the Sena-NCP-Congress’ consensus candidate for the top post.

Sharad Pawar said it was his nephew Ajit Pawar’s own decision, and not that of the party, to support the BJP to form the government.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut accused Ajit Pawar of stabbing people of Maharashtra in the back by deciding to join hands with the BJP. The month-long political impasse ended dramatically
with Fadnavis returning as the CM.

Pawar had on Friday night said the new government would be led by Uddhav Thackeray. The three parties had even prepared a draft common minimum programme to guide the actions of the new government.

After the oath-taking ceremony, Sharad Pawar tweeted: “Ajit Pawar’s decision to support the BJP to form the government is his personal decision and not that of the NCP. We place on record that we do not support or endorse his decision.”

The BJP and the Sena, which fought the assembly polls in an alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively in the 288-member House. The Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister’s post. The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats respectively.

A visibly moved Supriya Sule, NCP MP and Ajit Pawar’s cousin, in her WhatsApp status said the Pawar family and the party had split.

“Who do you trust in life. Never felt so cheated in life. Defended him, loved him. Look what I get in return,” she said in another status post, about Ajit Pawar.

The dramatic developments in Maharashtra came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shout-out for Sharad Pawar’s party in Parliament, at a time the NCP was engrossed in all- out efforts to form a non-BJP coalition in Maharashtra.

Pawar’s recent meeting with Modi in Delhi also created ripples in Maharashtras political circles. There was also buzz of a business tycoon playing a role in bringing BJP and NCP together.

When Pawar was recently asked about the alleged involvement of a corporate house in government formation, he had said that he had not discussed this issue with anyone except political leaders.
PM Modi has always praised Pawar and made it a point not to launch a vicious attack against him during the state election campaign.

PM Modi’s latest praise for Pawar came when he was speaking on the occasion of 250th session of the Rajya Sabha.

PM Modi said other parties, including the BJP, should learn from the NCP and Biju Janata Dal on how to adhere to parliamentary norms.

In 2016, when Modi came to the Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI) in Manjari on an invitation from Pawar, he had praised the NCP chief as an example to others in public life.

“I have personal respect for Pawar. I was the Gujarat chief minister that time. He helped me walk by holding my finger. I feel proud to pronounce this publicly,” PM Modi had said.

(PTI)