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How Did Ajit Pawar Get Letter of Support That Led to Midnight Coup? The Mystery Deepens

Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar shake hands after the oath taking ceremony outside Raj Bhavan in Mumbai. (Image: Special Arrangement)

Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar shake hands after the oath taking ceremony outside Raj Bhavan in Mumbai. (Image: Special Arrangement)

The BJP has claimed Ajit Pawar was elected leader of the NCP legislature party on October 30 and the letter of support was sent in the same capacity.

There is a lot of suspense over the letter of support handed over to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari by NCP rebel leader Ajit Pawar, which led to the immediate revocation of the President’s Rule in Maharashtra with a wee-hour swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister.

The BJP has claimed Ajit Pawar was elected leader of the NCP legislature party on October 30 and the letter of support was sent in the same capacity.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar was asked the same question in a press conference Saturday afternoon where some of the MLAs who went to Raj Bhavan for the swearing-in were asked to narrate the sequence of events.

However, the contents of the letter delivered by Ajit Pawar and how it was obtained continues to be shrouded in mystery.

A section in the NCP believes that the letter electing Ajit Pawar as the leader of the legislature party was lying in the party office in Mumbai. In NCP, all party correspondence of this nature is handled by Sharad Pawar’s trusted aide Shivajirao Garje.

Garje is a former civil servant handpicked by Sharad Pawar. He was later appointed Maharashtra NCP general secretary. It is said he took voluntary retirement from services to work for Pawar.

A section of NCP believes Ajit Pawar sought the letter notifying his election as the leader of the legislature party from Garje late Friday night.

With Pawar having announced Uddhav Thackaray as the next chief minister after a joint meeting of Sena-Congress and NCP, Garje apparently though the document was being sought to be delivered to the Governor in support of Sena the next day. He did not cross check with Sharad Pawar and hence complied.

It is only the next morning when Sharad Pawar and Garje woke up to the swearing-in of Ajit Pawar and Devendra Fadnavis that the party realised what had happened.

Another story doing the rounds is that Ajit Pawar did not hand over the letter of support to the Governor as the leader of the party. What was given was a signed copy of the attendance sheet of the MLAs who participated in the legislature party MLAs’ meeting which elected Ajit Pawar as the NCP leader in the assembly. The NCP on Saturday removed Ajit Pawar as the leader of the legislature party to appoint Jayant Patil in his place.

On Sunday, Patil reached Raj Bhawan with a letter to the Governor informing him about Ajit Pawar's replacement as legislature party leader.

first published:November 24, 2019, 13:33 IST