In a major turn of events, Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in for a second term as Maharashtra Chief Minister on Saturday, with NCP leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath of office to the two leaders at Raj Bhawan.
After being sworn in, Ajit said he decided to form the government with the BJP as the state was facing many problems, including farmer issues. “The talks between the three parties was not ending and going on for a month. The demands that were being made were unreasonable. I realised that if such problems were being created now, how could we provide a stable government to the state which is the need of the hour. I took this decision to provide a stable government to Maharashtra,” Ajit said.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar said Ajit Pawar’s decision to join hands with Fadnavis was personal. “Ajit Pawar’s decision to support the BJP to form the Maharashtra government is his personal decision and not that of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). We place on record that we do not support or endorse this decision of his.”
Later in the day, the NCP chief addressed a press conference along with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Aaditya Thackeray where he lashed out at his nephew Ajit Pawar and promised disciplinary action. He also warned other NCP MLAs by reminding them of the anti-defection law. NCP MLAs will meet at 4 pm to decide their next course of action.
Pawar said, “Ajit Pawar’s decision is a breach of party discipline. Every MLA who is changing ship must know that there is an anti-defection law and the possibility of them losing their Assembly membership is high.”
Pawar said 10 to 11 NCP MLAs met Ajit, but three have already come back. He added that BJP would not be able to prove its majority on the floor.
On the other hand, Uddhav said, “This is a surgical strike carried out on Maharashtra in the dead of the night, and the people of the state will take revenge.” He accused the BJP of trying to stay in power by breaking parties and said elections are no more needed after what has happened Saturday.
“Earlier, EVM khel was going on and now, this is a new khel (game). From now onwards, I don’t think elections are even needed. Everyone knows what Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj did when he betrayed and attacked from the back,” Uddhav Thackeray told reporters.
Also, Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule also reacted to the development. “Ajit Pawar turned out to be a traitor,” the NCP leader’s cousin and party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule told The Indian Express on Saturday hours after Devendra Fadnavis took oath as the Maharashtra Chief Minister along with Ajit as his deputy. “There is a split in both the family and the party,” the Baramati MP added.
Meanwhile, Congress called it the betrayal of people’s mandate. “This is called betrayal of people’s mandate and giving contract for killing democracy,” Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a tweet.
The state had been under President’s rule for the last 10 days following an impasse over government formation. It was revoked through a notification signed by President Ram Nath Kovind at 5:47 am this morning.
After being sworn in, Fadnavis said Maharashtra needed a stable government. “The people had given us a clear mandate, but the Shiv Sena tried to ally with other parties. As a result, President’s rule was imposed in the state. Maharashtra needed a stable government not a ‘khichdi’ government,” Fadnavis said.
Fadnavis added, “I want to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for trusting in me. People had given a clear mandate. Shiv Sena rejected the mandate. We want to assure the people of Maharashtra that whatever the challenges they are facing, we are going to face them strongly. We stand with the farmers during their time of distress.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to congratulate the two leaders. “Congratulations to Devendra Fadnavis ji and Ajit Pawar ji on taking oath as the CM and Deputy CM of Maharashtra respectively. I am confident they will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra,” he tweeted, minutes after the swearing-in ceremony.
Congratulations to @Dev_Fadnavis Ji and @AjitPawarSpeaks Ji on taking oath as the CM and Deputy CM of Maharashtra respectively. I am confident they will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 23, 2019
Reacting to the major twist that happened today morning in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “This is a crime that has been committed by the Raj Bhavan in the dead of the night. The Shiv Sena is strong. Party chief Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar will meet and hold a joint press conference today.”
“Ajit Pawar was with us yesterday. His body language was suspicious. He then stepped out and his phone was switched off. We were told he was with his lawyer. In this case, Sharad Pawar is not involved. Had realised his intent when he had resigned as MLA before elections. He has stabbed the people of Maharashtra in the back and betrayed Sharad Pawar,” Raut added.
The BJP won 105 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, while the NCP had garnered 54 seats.
The BJP and the Sena had fought the Assembly polls in alliance. However, after the Sena bagged 56 seats in the polls, the two parties were unable to reach a power-sharing deal, leading to a split between them. The Congress had won 44 seats in the House. The combined tally of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress is way beyond the majority mark of 145.