Mumbai: Uddhav Thackeray takes charge as Maharashtra’s chief minister Thursday but his Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance government will be watching out for what the NCP’s Ajit Pawar might be up to after his misadventure of supporting the BJP.
Until Wednesday, Ajit wanted to step away from politics for a while. However, as the clock ticked down to the swearing-in ceremony at 6:40 pm Thursday, he had a change of heart, saying he would continue to be in active politics and ensure the new government completes the full five-year term.
In this latest flip-flop, Ajit has shown once again that he is a man of paradoxes. When it was thought he would be remorseful about supporting a BJP government and then pulling it down by resigning as deputy chief minister, he surprised everyone by announcing to the media that he did not rebel against the NCP but was putting forth his point.
‘Much beyond a family issue’
Sources who know the Pawar family point out that Ajit cannot be silenced. He will continue to be a bigger threat to the new government than the BJP-led opposition.
“It is not a family drama. His rebellion is much beyond a family issue. It is a political challenge to Sharad Pawar. The Pawar family feared that if he joined the BJP, there would be a Pawar versus Pawar situation in Baramati,” said a source.
Now back in the NCP fold, Ajit is demanding his share of power. Sources say he is demanding to be made deputy CM, and also wants the home portfolio. Ajit also wanted to be sworn-in Thursday alongside Thackeray, along with two ministers each from the Sena, NCP and Congress, but his name doesn’t figure on the NCP list.
Sharad Pawar is not keen on making these demands a bargaining point for his nephew’s continued support. He is treading cautiously, as he is aware of the support it will generate for Ajit in Baramati if any indication is given that his nephew has been cast aside in this game of thrones.
Ajit is secure in the knowledge that he continues to hold the aces despite losing his credibility. “I have not rebelled. I am not angry,” he told the media.