Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar on Sunday joined the Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra as the Deputy Chief Minister, sending shockwaves in political circles.
Ajit is the nephew of NCP President Sharad Pawar. This is the fifth time he has become Deputy CM of Maharashtra.
Leaders from Shinde's Sena faction and NCP aligned with Ajit have said the grouping would go forward strongly.
Ajit is backed by a pool of Members of the Legislative Assembly from NCP. Nine MLAs, including Pawar, were inducted as ministers in the swearing-in ceremony at Raj Bhavan on Sunday.
Before he reached Raj Bhavan along with party leaders aligned with him, Ajit held a meeting of NCP leaders at his residence that was attended by some MLAs and party leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Supriya Sule. Sharad Pawar said that he was not aware of the meeting.
VIDEO | NCP founder leader Sharad Pawar says he was unaware why party leader Ajit Pawar called meeting of MLAs earlier Today. pic.twitter.com/0Hutxc3Cn7— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) July 2, 2023
Here we list the reactions of various leaders from across political parties on Maharashtra developments.
Almost MLAs are with us, will contest polls with BJP: Ajit Pawar
Soon after joining the Sena-BJP government as Deputy Chief Minister, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said that almost all NCP MLAs are with his decisions and the party would now contest elections together with the BJP.
Ajit further said that the decision was taken after "considering all aspects at the national level". He further praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said "everyone supports him and appreciates his leadership".
"The country is progressing under the leadership of PM Modi. He is also popular in other countries. Everyone supports him and appreciates his leadership. We will fight the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections with them (BJP) and that is why we have taken this decision," ANI quoted Ajit as saying.
He also said, "Several people will criticise now a bit. We don't give value to that and we will keep working for the progress of Maharashtra and that is why we have taken this decision. Most of our MLAs are satisfied with this. We have supported this govt with NCP Party. We will contest all elections in the name of NCP only."
Ajti also noted that NCP supports BJP in Nagaland.
"Previously NCP got seven MLAs in Nagaland and all MLAs went with BJP on the party's decision. If we can go with BJP in Nagaland then why can't we go with BJP here also. We will do everything for the betterment of Maharashtra," said Ajit.
We now triple engine government: Eknath Shinde
Referring to the coming together of his Sena faction, BJP, and NCP, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that the state now has "triple engine government".
Shinde also said that they came together with Ajit and NCP MLAs to develop Maharashtra.
ANI quoted Shinde as saying, "Now we have one Chief Minister and two Deputy Chief Ministers. The double-engine government has now become triple engine. For the development of Maharashtra, I welcome Ajit Pawar and his leaders. Ajit Pawar's experience will help strengthen Maharashtra."
Shinde further said that berths in the Cabinet would be worked out in due course of time.
"There is enough time to discuss about the seat sharing in the cabinet. We have come together to develop Maharashtra. They (the opposition) got 4-5 seats in Lok Sabha elections, this time they will not manage to get even those number of seats," ANI quoted Shinde as saying.
There is no split in NCP: Chhagan Bhujbal
NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said they have not split the party and have joined the BJP-Sena coalition as the NCP legislative party. He is among the nine NCP leaders inducted as minsters.
Bhujbal added that future election would be contested jointly with BJP and Sena.
"We have joined the government as its third party. Few people are saying that we have split the party but that is not correct. We have come here as NCP. We have also criticised Modi govt on many occasions but it is true that the country is safe in his hands," said Bhujbal, as per ANI.
Bhujbal also said that party chief Sharad Pawar has said that Modi is returning as the Prime Minister.
He said, "Pawar Saheb himself said that Narendra Modi is coming back as the Prime Minister and as a positive gesture, we have decided to come with this govt for development. Whenever we sit together, we discuss about this. We have all the MLAs with us."
Joining government not party stand, will take action: Sharad Pawar
NCP President Sharad Pawar, who has seen the majority of his MLAs defecting to join the Maharashtra government, said that it was not the party line and actions will be taken against those who violated the party line.
Pawar also said that he would start building the party afresh from Monday.
"For us, one thing is important now that the state unit chief of the party and the party's national committee, those party colleagues who joined the government...it was not the party's stand...So those who violated the party line, the party will decide about action against them. There is a process for that. The action will be taken as per that process and it will be initiated," said Pawar, as per PTI.
Pawar also said that he would not take the legal route but a political route to the situation.
"The former Union minister made it clear that the party will not fight the battle legally, and he would instead go to the people and seek their support. Asked whether the current development has split his house, he answered in the negative...He said he would start visiting different parts of the state from Monday to seek people's support," reported PTI.
Pawar also said that NCP leaders getting ministerial berths in the Maharashtra government also shows that corruption allegations against them are not true. Notably, NCP personalities, including Ajit Pawar, have been subject of corruption investigations. It has also been alleged that Opposition leaders from across parties are targeted by federal investigative agencies for political purposes.
"I am happy today that he gave cabinet berths to some colleagues from the NCP. It shows that the allegations against corruption were not factual. He has exonerated the party and all those against whom he had levelled allegations and I am thankful to the PM for this," PTI quoted Pawar as saying.
PM Modi biggest patron of corruption: AAP
Sharing a video clip of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) National Spokesperson Sanjay Singh tweeted that Modi is the biggest patron of corruption.
नरेन्द्र मोदी देश में “भ्रष्टाचार के सबसे बड़े पोषक हैं”— Sanjay Singh AAP (@SanjayAzadSln) July 2, 2023
दो दिन पहले भ्रष्टाचार पर कार्यवाही की गारंटी दी आज “चक्की पिसिंग” वाले को उपमुख्यमंत्री छगन भुजबल को मंत्री बनाया।
आज सारे TV चैनल मोदी जी की निंदा करेंगे। pic.twitter.com/OeQPNJUwqb
After nine NCP leaders, including Ajit Pawar, joined the Maharashtra government, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the "biggest patron of corruption".
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal asked Modi whether he is ashamed of inducting the people today who were being raided by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) until yesterday.
He tweeted, "You have today inducted the same people in your government who you called corrupt and who were being raided by CBI and ED till yesterday. Are you ashamed, Prime Minister Ji? When Prime Minister Ji says "I would not leave anyone corrupt", he means that he would induct every one of them in his party."
BJP's 'washing machine' giving corruption 'clean chit': Congress
Responding to Ajit Pawar and fellow NCP leaders defecting to join the Maharashtra government, the Congress party said that the "washing machine" of BJP has started giving "clean chit" to those accused of corruption.
On June 29, PM Modi had spoken about corruption and it appears he switched on the "washing machine" and these leaders are now squeaky clean after this oath-taking ceremony, PTI quoted AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal as saying.
He further said, :The BJP's dirty tricks department is working on overdrive in Maharashtra. This is not a legitimately elected government, but an ED-facilitated power grab. The Maharashtra government is a product of corruption and sin. The people have very well identified the traitors, corrupt and compromised leaders of Maharashtra and each of them will be taught the lessons of their lifetime in the next elections."
People will not tolerate this for long: Sanjay Raut
Shiv Sena-Uddhav Bala Thackery (Shiv Sena-UBT) faction leader Sanjay Raut took to Twitter to talk about the current political climate in the state.
He wrote, "Some people have taken up the task of cleaning up Maharashtra politics. Let them have their way. I just had a talk with Mr. Sharad Pawar."
Raut said that Pawar told him: "I am strong. We have the support of the people. We will rebuild everything again with Uddhav Thackeray."
Raut further said that "people will not tolerate this game for long".
महाराष्ट्राच्या राजकारणाचे साफ मातेरे करण्याचां विडा काही लोकांनी उचलला आहे.त्यांना त्यांच्या मार्गाने जाऊ द्या.— Sanjay Raut (@rautsanjay61) July 2, 2023
माझे आताच श्री.शरद पवार यांच्याशी बोलणे झाले.ते म्हणाले" मी खंबीर आहे.लोकांचा पाठिंबा आपल्याला आहे. उद्धव ठाकरें सह पुन्हा सर्व नव्याने उभे करू.". होय,जनता हे खेळ फार… pic.twitter.com/fsBbIZGoFE
BJP is just political opportunist: Priyanka Chaturvedi
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said, "Principles be damned, BJP should be the last party in the country talking about ideological alliances. They are just political opportunists wanting power at any cost."
Chaturvedi further said that the ministers who were jailed for corruption were being sworn-in as ministers.