Saturday, Mar 25, 2023

Tensions within MVA in open, Ajit Pawar kept out of Opposition move against Speaker

Pawar admits he wasn't told about the no-confidence motion, growing suspicion within MVA about the NCP leader's bonhomie with BJP's Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis

NCP leader Ajit Pawar (right) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during the inauguration of Pune Metro Rail in March, 2022. (Express Photo By Pavan Khengre)
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Tensions within MVA in open, Ajit Pawar kept out of Opposition move against Speaker
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The uneasiness within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), particularly over NCP leader Ajit Pawar, was evident this week when his name was not on the no-confidence motion moved against Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar by the coalition.

An impression has been gaining ground within the MVA regarding Pawar’s more-than-cordial ties with BJP Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, strengthened by the Maharashtra government providing him a state plane recently for a trip to Mumbai.

Pawar, the Leader of the Opposition, did not deny that he was in the dark about the motion against the Speaker. “I am not aware of any such no-confidence move against the Speaker. Had I known, I would have signed. But then, as far as I know, you cannot bring a no-confidence motion against a Speaker for at least a year (after their appointment),” he told mediapersons.

Narwekar took over in the first week of July 2022, after the Shinde Sena and BJP came together to topple the MVA government.

But his MVA colleagues have a counter to Pawar’s argument, saying they wanted to underline the “high-handedness of the Speaker”.

Congress state chief Nana Patole, who was a Speaker under the MVA government, said: “The Speaker is expected to conduct the House in a non-partisan manner, give the Opposition opportunities to place its views… Narwekar was under pressure from the BJP. He did what they wanted.”

Many leaders in the MVA believe that Pawar has not been aggressive enough in the House, letting the government get away with measures such as Narwekar’s “partisanship”.


Altogether, 47 MLAs of the Congress, Uddhav Shiv Sena and Pawar’s NCP signed the no-confidence motion against the Speaker. While it was a clear message to Pawar, the move was also a subtle hint of assertiveness by the Congress and Uddhav Sena against their more dominant partner NCP.

It is unusual for an Opposition MLA, not to say the Leader of the Opposition, to not be aware about the Opposition’s plans in the House as these are charted out on a daily basis before the Session’s sitting.

The BJP and Shinde Sena criticised the MVA for targeting the Speaker. State BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule said, “If the MVA brings a trust vote against the Speaker, it will only expose itself. In July, Narwekar had won with 164 votes (of the total 287). If the no-confidence is put to vote in the House, his support will rise to 184. Twenty to 25 members from opposition parties support us.”


On paper though, things are not as black and white. The Shinde-Fadnavis coalition government has 155 members, just 11 more than the half-way mark in the 288-member Assembly.

A senior former Congress minister hinted that the Shinde Sena had its own reasons to suspect Pawar and Fadnavis. “The two-week Winter Session was entirely dominated by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Opposition leader Ajit Pawar. The two reaffirmed their leadership within their own parties,” he said, adding that in this mutual gain for the two, the loser was CM Eknath Shinde, who was the focus of Pawar-led Opposition attacks, including over the Nagpur Improvement Trust land deal.

“Neither was Fadnavis attacked nor were BJP ministers criticised. The BJP clearly had the upper hand against the Shinde faction in the Session,” the Congress leader said.

The Congress, for one, found itself almost completely blanked out in the session, reduced to a supporting role in Pawar’s show. The motion against the Speaker was one way for the Congress and Uddhav Sena to seize the limelight on the last day of the Session, the former minister said.

The blatant tension within the MVA came as a surprise given that just two weeks ago, when the Winter Session began, it had projected an image of collective leadership, determined to together take on the Shinde-Fadnavis government.

First published on: 31-12-2022 at 13:35 IST
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