From ‘I am NCP’ to ‘I Am With NCP’ in 48 Hours: Ajit Pawar’s Turnaround Mounts Trojan Horse Speculation
(Illustration by Mir Suhail/News18)
Was it misadventure by an ambitious nephew or was he a Trojan Horse sent by a seasoned Chanakya to carry out a stunning plot? The reasons behind Ajit Pawar hitching his wagon with the BJP for four days and making a swift return to the NCP may always remain a mystery.
But statements trickling in post the end of Fadnavis’s reign after just three days and carefully orchestrated photo-ops have set off speculation in political circles that it was perhaps the latter – a Sharad Pawar-designed operation to inflict humiliation on the BJP, which has formed government in state after state whether it had the numbers on its side or not. Maharashtra will not be like Goa, he decided.
After a warm hug with Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule for the cameras outside the Maharashtra assembly, Ajit Pawar on Wednesday morning said he has always maintained “I was with NCP and I am with NCP”.
What a difference just one word and 48 hours can make. On Monday, as he had doubled down on his rebellion against his uncle, he had declared in the Supreme Court: “I am NCP”.
That statement must have given some optimism to the BJP and CM Devendra Fadnavis as all its hopes on pulling off the coup rested solely on Ajit Pawar’s ability to split the NCP after getting enough MLAs to switch allegiance.
But that joy had proven to be shortlived as soon after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test for Wednesday, Ajit Pawar went to Fadnavis and said he is resigning as his deputy as he does not have the MLAs on his side.
Fadnavis not only had to face the ignominy of resigning as Maharashtra CM twice in a fortnight, but now faces the prospect of his growing stature in the BJP diminishing.
It remains to be seen how this episode affects Ajit Pawar, but early signs indicate that he would be welcomed back into the NCP. NCP leader Nawab Malik said that he has met party chief Sharad Pawar and admitted his mistake. "He apologised and said he made mistake. His role in government will be decided very soon," said Malik.
After taking his oath as an MLA, Ajit Pawar told mediapersons that he was still with the NCP, pointing out that he was never expelled from the party despite the rebellion. “I will stand by any decision the party takes,” he said.
According to media reports, members of Sharad Pawar's family had been in touch with Ajit all throughout, ostensibly coaxing him to return to the alliance with the Shiv Sena and Congress.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also said the rebel NCP leader is back in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi. "Ajit dada has resigned and he is with us. He will get a good post. After all, he has done such a big job," Raut told a news channel. Take that how you may.