Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar) leader Rohit Pawar on Monday claimed that 18 to 19 MLAs from Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s faction of the Nationalist Congress Party would switch sides after the upcoming Monsoon session of the state Assembly, PTI reported.

The Monsoon session of the Maharashtra legislature will begin on June 27 and end on July 12. The state Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in October.

On Monday, Rohit Pawar said that there were several MLAs who had never spoken ill of Sharad Pawar, the president of the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar), or other senior leaders after the party’s split in July 2023.

“But they have to attend the legislature session and get development funds for their constituencies,” said Rohit Pawar, the grandnephew of Sharad Pawar. “So they will wait till the session ends [before switching].”

He added: “There are 18 to 19 [Nationalist Congress Party] MLAs who are in touch with us and [Sharad] Pawar saheb.”

The party president and other leaders would decide on whom to take back into the fold, said Rohit Pawar.

He also noted that Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel had claimed he would become a Union minister when the next Cabinet expansion took place. “This means Praful Patel has full hold over Ajit Pawar’s party.”

Rohit Pawar added: “It needs to be checked if Ajit Pawar separated for development or to save Praful Patel from the Enforcement Directorate.”

On June 3, a Mumbai court quashed the attachment of seven flats worth over Rs 180 crore, owned by Patel, his wife and their company, Millennium Developers, in a money-laundering case.

The Enforcement Directorate had attached the flats in 2022. The properties are located at Ceejay House in Mumbai’s Worli area.

In 2023, Ajit Pawar, along with several party MLAs, joined the Mahayuti coalition government in the state, comprising the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Ajit Pawar was then made the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra.

The move had led to a split in the Nationalist Congress Party, with one faction supporting Sharad Pawar and the other backing Ajit Pawar.

In the recently concluded general elections, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party faction won eight of the 10 seats it contested in Maharashtra. The party’s INDIA bloc ally, the Congress, emerged as the largest single party in the state with 13 seats. Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha constituencies.

Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, which is also part of the Opposition alliance, won nine of the 17 seats it contested.

In contrast, Ajit Pawar’s faction secured victory in only one of the five seats it contested. The Shiv Sena faction led by Shinde won seven of the 15 seats it contested. The BJP won nine of the 28 seats it contested.