Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar on Sunday took oath as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, reported ANI.

He had announced his wish to step down as the leader of the Opposition and on Sunday held a meeting with some of the party MLAs who supported him, reported The Indian Express. The politician was said to be unhappy after he was denied the opportunity to step down as the leader of the Opposition and work as state unit chief of the Nationalist Congress Party, according to the newspaper.

Pawar’s cousin Supriya Sule along with Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel were made working presidents of the outfit earlier in June after a reshuffle.

Eight other Nationalist Congress Party’s MLAs Dharmobaba Atram, Chhagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Dhananjay Munde, Aditi Tatkare, Anil Patil, Sanjay Bhansode, also took oath as ministers.

Praful Patel, who is considered close to Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, also attended the oath-taking ceremony.

Soon after taking oath, Pawar said that he has not split the party but was supporting the BJP government as the Nationalist Congress Party. “We will fight elections under the NCP name and symbol,” he said at a press conference.

He added: “If we went with the Shiv Sena [in 2019] and extended support to the NDPP-BJP government in Nagaland, then we can definitely go with the BJP.”

Pawar also claimed that all party MLAs are with him. “The majority is given importance in a democracy,” he said. ‘Our party is 24 years old and young leadership should come forward.”

Meanwhile, Maharashtra minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has claimed that more than 40 MLAs from the Nationalist Congress Party are extending support to the government, reported ANI. “Almost the entire NCP will be joining,” he added.

An unidentified aide close to Pawar has told PTI that 36 out of 53 Nationalist Congress Party MLAs have extended support to the new deputy CM and that the numbers could go to 46 in a few days time.

Meanwhile, the party has appointed Jitendra Awhad as Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly.

Sharad Pawar said in a press conference that as the party president, he had appointed Patel and Tatkare at senior party position but they did not follow their responsibilities, reported ANI. “Therefore, I have to take some action against them,” Pawar said.

He added: “Some of my colleagues have taken a stand different to that of the party. They claim that they are the party. But the truth will be out soon. I’ll travel around the state to meet the people, as much as possible. That’s my strategy going forward. I trust the people [of the state]. We’ll put forward our stand to the people.”

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut tweeted that Sharad Pawar has told him he has the support of the people and will rebuild everything with Uddhav Thackeray. “People will not tolerate this game for long,” the Rajya Sabha MP said in a tweet.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that Ajit Pawar’s experience will help the government in strengthening the state.

“Now we have one chief minister and two deputy chief ministers,” Shinde told reporters. “The double-engine government has now become triple engine. For the development of Maharashtra, I welcome Ajit Pawar and his leaders.”

Pawar had taken oath as the deputy chief minister in 2019 too, joining hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party. However, the alliance did not last for more than three days and Pawar returned to the Nationalist Congress Party as Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government was formed.

He was again sworn in the deputy chief minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government.