While the movement of Shiv Sena chief and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis has been at the core of discussions related to Maharashtra’s political turmoil, there is one politician who has managed to stay off the limelight.
It is this politician – NCP’s Ajit Pawar — who is now being discussed in hush-hush voices over cups of tea in drawing rooms.
Leaders and ministers of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government have been curiously analysing his role in the political mess that spilled over Maharashtra soon after the cross-voting in the Legislative Council elections.
“Better keep an eye on Ajit Pawar. He went missing for two hours leaving his security behind amid the ongoing crisis,” said a senior minister in the government, on condition of anonymity.
So what happens to junior Pawar, if the BJP forms the government? Will he bear the burnt for embarrassing Fadnavis by withdrawing support within hours of taking oath as his deputy in 2019?
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“If the rumblings about him, that he helped in cross-voting and destabilising the government are true, the BJP won’t hurt him,” said a senior leader of a party that is part of the MVA.
But was he in touch with the BJP? While messages to Ajit Pawar and his office did not elicit any response, a senior leader in the BJP said, “We were in touch with everyone and they also contacted us. We had to decide how to play it out,” said the leader.
While the Shiv Sena is working closely with the NCP, sources in the BJP say both the parties distrust each other.
“There are a few in the Sena who believe the NCP has played this game. There are those who think the Sena should have kept its house in order and played the game. All we can say is that everyone stayed in touch with everyone at one point or the other. The politics of the state is such,” said a senior BJP leader.
Responding to how can allies have so much distrust amid each other and does it impact governance, a senior minister in MVA government said, “It was like that, but as we are part of the MVA and had to keep the BJP out, we managed to get along or showed patience.”