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Coup In Maharashtra: Ajit Pawar Joins Shinde Govt As Deputy CM, Chhagan Bhujbal And Praful Patel Also Switch Sides

The development comes after a surprise meeting held at NCP leader Ajit Pawar's residence attended by some MLAs and top party leaders like Bhujbal and party's working president Supriya Sule.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar on Sunday joined Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government as Deputy Chief Minister
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Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar on Sunday joined the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government as Deputy Chief Minister. 

Besides Ajit, a number of NCP leaders, including Chhagan Bhujbal, also took oaths as ministers. Some of the other NCP leaders who took oaths as Shinde's ministers are Dilip Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Dhananjay Munde, Aditi Tatkare, and Aatram Dharamraobaba Bhagwantrao. 

The development comes after a surprise meeting held at Ajit's residence attended by some MLAs and top party leaders like Bhujbal and party's working president Supriya Sule. Following the meeting, Ajit and NCP leaders reached the Raj Bhavan where Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also arrived. 

Prior to the split in NCP, Ajit sat in the Opposition as the Leader of the Opposition. He is the nephew of NCP President Sharad Pawar, who was earlier key in stiching the NCP-Congress-Shiv Sena coalition under the banner of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) that ran Maharashtra during 2019-22 until Shinde's rebellion split Sena and toppled the coalition.

Almost MLAs are with us, will contest polls with BJP: Ajit Pawar

Addressing media after joining the Sena-BJP government, 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.

NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who also took oath as a minister on Sunday, also said that they have not split the party and have joined the BJP-Sena coalition as the NCP legislative party. He 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."

We now have triple engine government: Eknath Shinde

Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde said that Maharashtra now has "triple engine" government. 

Speaking to media after Ajit took oath as Deputy CM of Maharashtra, Shinde said that they came together with Ajit and NCP MLAs to develop Maharashtra.

The "triple engine" government refers to the coming together of Shinde-led Sena, the BJP, and NCP MLAs. The BJP often uses 'doule engine' to refer to the situation where the state as well as the Centre have BJP governments, which, according to the BJP, translates into a quick pace of development as the two governments work in synergy.

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.

40 NCP MLAs support us: Minister minister Sudhir Mungantiwar

News agency ANI quoted Maharashtra Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar as saying that over 40 NCP MLAs support the Shinde-led government.

"More than 40 MLAs are extending support to the government. Almost the entire NCP will be joining. Ajit Pawar's post will be decided by CM Eknath Shinde. He will distribute the portfolios. The oath-taking ceremony will begin in 5 minutes," Mungantiwar was quoted as saying by ANI before the oath-taking ceremony.

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The NCP has a total of 54 MLAs in Maharashtra assembly, according to PRS Legislative Research. The BJP is the single-largest party with 105 MLAs and Shiv Sena before the split was the second-largest party with 56 MLAs. 

NCP MLAs 'upset' with Sharad Pawar: Report

News agency ANI reported sources as saying that NCP MLAs were upset with Sharad Pawar's leadership.

"Some MLAs accompanying NCP leader Ajit Pawar to Raj Bhawan were 'upset' with Sharad Pawar’s 'unilateral' decision to share stage and ally with Rahul Gandhi at the opposition unity meet in Patna," reported ANI, citing sources

Earlier on Friday, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray's aide Rahul Kanal also joined the BJP in a jolt to the Thackeray-led Sena faction. 

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