New Delhi: Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar resigned Tuesday afternoon, barely three hours after the Supreme Court issued directions for a floor test to be conducted in the state assembly Wednesday.
The resignation put a big question mark on the survival of the three-day old Devendra Fadnavis government as the numbers appeared to be stacked against the alliance the BJP claimed it had cobbled with the NCP faction headed by Ajit Pawar.
Fadnavis himself is due to address a press conference at 3.30 pm Tuesday.
Pawar was sworn in as deputy chief minister Saturday morning, along with Fadnavis as chief minister, in a rebellion against his uncle Sharad Pawar who was spearheading the opposition’s attempt to forge a coalition of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress and the Shiv Sena.
Ajit Pawar’s resignation signalled the ruling alliance in Maharashtra may not succeed in proving its majority in the assembly, with the BJP left with 105 MLAs in the 288-member house. On Monday evening, the Congress-NCP-Sena combine had paraded 158 MLAs at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Mumbai even as Ajit Pawar remained holed up at his residence that wore a deserted look, with about a dozen NCP MLAs who had gone with him to the Raj Bhawan returning to the Sharad Pawar camp.
The opposition combine seems to have a clear majority in the assembly a day ahead of the trust vote. It’s not clear if the BJP, which seems isolated in its attempt to engineer defections in the opposition camp, will wait for the trust vote on Wednesday or get the chief minister to resign and pave the way for the coalition government to be led by Uddhav Thackeray.
Ajit Pawar’s next move is not clear yet. His rebellion had drawn strong words from Sharad Pawar and his daughter and MP Supriya Sule who termed it as “betrayal”. NCP leaders have been exhorting Ajit Pawar to make a comeback and join his uncle in deposing the BJP-led government. He was the front-runner for the deputy chief minister’s post in a Uddhav Thackeray-led government but his rebellion may have ended this possibility even if he were to return.