Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, whose revolt against the party on the weekend precipitated a crisis in Maharashtra politics, on Thursday said he would not take oath along with others who are part of an alliance government led by Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, PTI reported. Thackeray and his Cabinet will take oath in a ceremony at Shivaji Park in Mumbai at 6.40 pm.
Earlier in the day, reports suggested Pawar would be back as deputy chief minister. He had resigned from the post on Tuesday, bringing an end to the three-day-old Bharatiya Janata Party-led government with Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister. Pawar received a warm welcome after he came back to the Nationalist Congress Party the following day, claiming “he never left the party”.
“I am not taking oath today,” Pawar told reporters. “Today six leaders will be taking oath [two each from the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress]. The decision on deputy chief minister is yet to be taken by the party.”
Senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Jayant Patil also said he did not know who would be the deputy chief minister, but added that he would be sworn in as a minister, ANI reported. According to the understanding reached with the Shiv Sena and the Congress, the Sharad Pawar-led party will get the deputy chief minister’s post for the entire tenure while the Congress will hold the Speaker’s post.
The other Nationalist Congress Party leader to take oath will be Chhagan Bhujbal. “Senior leaders from the party, including Pawar saheb, will decide on the portfolio issue,” The Indian Express quoted him as saying.
Ajit Pawar, who was widely seen as Sharad Pawar’s top choice for the deputy chief minister’s post before his brief rebellion, visited his uncle’s home as it became clear he would not see himself back in the government this evening, according to Hindustan Times.
Though it is not clear who will attend the oath-taking ceremony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi are among those who have received invitations. Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aaditya Thackeray himself went to Delhi to invite Sonia Gandhi. Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde told ANI that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray was also among those invited. “Everyone should witness the historic day,” he added.
A fond remembrance and a potshot
Meanwhile, the bonhomie between the new alliance partners continued as NCP MP Supriya Sule, Sharad Pawar’s daughter, fondly remembered Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray and his wife Meenatai Thackeray, or Maa Saheb. Uddhav Thackeray will be the first person from the family to hold the chief minister’s post.
“Maa Saheb and Bala Saheb – missing you so much today,” she tweeted. “Both of you should have been here today. They treated me with so much love and affection, more than a daughter! Their role in my life will always be special and memorable!”
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, meanwhile, did not shy away from taking a dig at former alliance partner BJP. “How’s the josh?” he tweeted, referring to actor Vicky Kaushal’s dialogue from the film Uri: The Surgical Strike.