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Published On: Sat, Nov 23rd, 2019

The controversial comeback of BJP’s ‘Mr Clean’ in Maharashtra

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Devendra-Fadanvis-Ajit-Pawar-1024x569MUMBAI : The BJP made a stunning comeback in Maharashtra as the party’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath as Chief Minister on Saturday morning with a deputy, Ajit Pawar, whose Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had just hours before sealed a Shiv Sena-led alliance along with the Congress.
Several other NCP MLAs who were initially supporting Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray for the CM’s post, backed out on Saturday morning.Devendra Fadnavis has to prove his majority by November 30, reports suggest. The NCP has replaced Ajit Pawar with Jayant Patil as its Legislature Party leader.
Fadnavis, on Saturday, occupying the hot seat for the second time against all odds says something about his tenacity. He took oath as CM after the President’s Rule in Maharashtra was revoked in the wee hours on Saturday.
There were not many people at Raj Bhavan Friday morning when he was sworn in as Maharashtra chief minister for the second time, but the fact that 49-year-old Devendra Fadnavis managed to occupy the hot seat for the second time against all odds says something about his tenacity.
At today’s ceremony, which opposition Congress dubbed a clandestine affair after a night of intriguing political developments, the pomp and grandeur of the 2014 event was missing.
When Fadnavis first became the CM in 2014, it was in a public ceremony at the sprawling Wankhede Stadium in south Mumbai, in presence of his mother, wife, daughter and thousands of BJP workers and supporters.
Ajit Pawar’s uncle Sharad Pawar, the chief of the NCP, said his party is still with the Shiv Sena and its chief Uddhav Thackeray. The BJP would lose the trust vote, said Sharad Pawar, alleging that Ajit Pawar had misled the Governor and handed him letters of support that had been taken for the Shiv Sena-led alliance.

For the 7.50 am oath ceremony, which suddenly flashed on TV screens, President’s rule was revoked at 5.47 am after a signoff by President Ram Nath Kovind. There was no meeting of the Union Cabinet, as is the practice in such decisions. The Prime Minister can clear a decision without his cabinet in cases of “extreme urgency or unforeseen contingency”, according to the rules. Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had last evening cancelled his trip to Delhi for a three-day conference.
“Maharashtra needed a stable government, not a khichidi shaasan (mishmash government),” Devendra Fadnavis said after being sworn in as Chief Minister for the second time, adding that the Shiv Sena “did not follow people’s mandate”. “I thank NCP and Ajit Pawar for supporting us,” he added, on a deputy he had often criticized for corruption.
Ajit Pawar had been present last night at a meeting in which the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress had sealed an alliance with Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister. “From the day the results were announced to this day…. no party was able to form the government. Maharashtra was facing many issues, including farmer issues. So we decided to form a stable government,” he said.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar paraded three MLAs who said they had been asked by Ajit Pawar to go to the Raj Bhawan and they did so “without any clue”. “I’m sure the governor has given them time to prove majority but they won’t be able prove it. After that our three parties will form the government as we had decided earlier,” said Sharad Pawar.
The Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut alleged that Ajit Pawar, who faces corruption investigations, had been “blackmailed” and the details would be “exposed” soon. He also accused Ajit Pawar of “stabbing the Sena in the back”. “They misled the governor and took 10 MLAs with them. Five of those came back and Ajit Pawar will also come back. They (the BJP) committed a crime at night,” said Sanjay Raut, describing what he called Ajit Pawar’s “suspicious” body language last night.
Earlier this week, Sharad Pawar had met PM Modi, ostensibly over the farm crisis in Maharashtra, but the 45-minute meeting had caused a huge buzz. So had PM Modi’s unusual shout-out to the NCP for its conduct during a discussion in parliament on Monday.

The BJP, which emerged as the single largest party in the state elections last month with 105 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, had told the Governor last week that it could not form government as it was short of the 145-majority mark. After that, the party had been noticeably silent as the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress attempted to collaborate.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena, partners for over 30 years, fell out despite winning a majority together, with the Sena insistent on its “50:50” power-sharing demand including rotational chief ministership.
The Sena, with 56 MLAs, turned to ideological rivals NCP (54) and Congress (44) for support. Just as it seemed that the alliance was finally on track, the BJP pulled off a coup. But the NCP says nothing is final until the floor test a week away.
The Congress, which had come around to supporting the Sena after many meetings and much waffling, said it would fight back both legally and politically. The party’s Ahmed Patel, a close aide of Sonia Gandhi, denied that Congress’s stalling gave the BJP a window. “Nothing was amiss from Congress’s side. There was no delay from our end,” he said.
(With Bureau Report from Mumbai ).





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