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What forced Ajit Pawar to quit: Fear of ‘humiliation’ during floor test, return of aides to NCP fold

NCP leaders, meanwhile, said Ajit Pawar did not have the numbers he must have promised the BJP. And once he realised his efforts were not yielding the desired response, he resigned.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune | November 27, 2019 10:09:29 am
Ajit Pawar, Ajit Pawar NCP, Ajit Pawar resignation, Maharashtra, Maharashtra government, shiv sena, bjp, maharashtra assembly, maharashtra politicial crisis Constitutional experts said the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday, that the pro-tem speaker will hold the trust vote on Wednesday, forced Ajit Pawar’s hand and he had to quit the same day

While Devendra Fadnavis claimed that he resigned from the Maharashtra chief minister’s post after NCP leader Ajit Pawar conveyed his inability to continue in the alliance, but cited no concrete reason for the latter’s decision to quit, various theories are floating around as to why exactly the deputy chief minister resigned before the floor test. According to political leaders and analysts, a number of factors forced Ajit Pawar to resign after the Supreme Court directed that a floor test be held in the Maharashtra Assembly.

Some BJP leaders believe that Ajit Pawar resigned as he wanted to avoid being “humiliated” as the alliance cobbled together by the BJP and him was likely to fail the floor test. The BJP was banking on him to sail through the trust vote, but Ajit Pawar could not muster the required numbers after NCP MLAs who were rumoured to be supporting him returned to the party fold led by chief Sharad Pawar.

NCP leaders, meanwhile, said Ajit Pawar did not have the numbers he must have promised the BJP. And once he realised his efforts were not yielding the desired response, he resigned. “Ajit Pawar clearly did not have the numbers…,” said NCP MP Vandana Chavan.

Other NCP leaders dismissed media reports that claimed appeals by family members and party workers made Ajit Pawar change his mind. “The contention that repeated meetings and emotional appeals, made by family members and party leaders, made Ajit Pawar change his mind is false. If that was the case, then he would have not acted the way he did in the first place,” said a top NCP leader from Pune.

Constitutional experts said the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday, that the pro-tem speaker will hold the trust vote on Wednesday, forced Ajit Pawar’s hand and he had to quit the same day. The BJP wanted a permanent speaker to be appointed, who could dictate terms in the House. “But the pro-tem speaker was given only two powers by the apex court — to administer oath to MLAs and hold the trust vote,” said Anand Kalse, former Secretary of Maharashtra State Legislature.

The return of Dhananjay Munde, who is a close aide of Ajit Pawar, to party chief Sharad Pawar was another major blow to Ajit Pawar’s bid to cobble up the requisite alliance.

Before Munde returned, two MLAs who were supposedly backing Ajit Pawar also returned to the party fold. At the press conference held by Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, they narrated how they were “misled” by Ajit Pawar.

“And then two other MLAs, who were “rescued from Gurgaon”, exposed the BJP and Ajit Pawar’s plan. This must have surely rattled Ajit Pawar,” said NCP leaders.

According to Congress leaders, the state secretariat had made it clear that Jayant Patil would be the chief whip of the NCP as Ajit Pawar had been removed from the post.

This effectively meant Ajit Pawar had no right to issue a whip to the 54 MLAs of the NCP to vote in favour of the BJP-led government. Constitutional and legal experts had also stated that the second appointment superseded the first appointment in legality.

Ajit Pawar had teamed up with the BJP because he had been cornered over the irrigation and bank scam, said some leaders of the saffron party.

“At every rally during elections, our leaders highlighted the irrigation scam and bank scam linked to Ajit Pawar. Even before that, our party leaders were talking of sending him to jail. This put him under pressure… he tried to manage the situation by joining hands with the BJP,” said a BJP leader.

“The Supreme Court order hastened his exit,” added the leader.

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