New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) To support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in forming the government in Maharashtra, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar had placed two conditions before the saffron party.
First, he wanted the agriculture ministry for his daughter Supriya Sule, who is active at the Central level, and second, he wanted someone other than Devendra Fadnavis to become the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned down both the demands.
Sources in the BJP told IANS that the party thought that if it decided to offer the agriculture ministry to the NCP, the Janata Dal United (JD-U), its ally from Bihar, will demand for the railway ministry. In this situation, despite having the mandate, the BJP would loose two big ministries.
As far as the second demand of Pawar is concerned, the sources said the party was never ready to replace Fadnavis as the Chief Minister, mainly because he successfully completed the five-year tenure without any controversies and allegations.
Apart from this, the party contested the elections with Fadnavis as the CM face and even the Prime Minister, while addressing the party workers from the BJP headquarters on October 24, had announced him as the Chief Minister. Hence, it was difficult for the BJP to accept this demand from the NCP supremo.
The sources said that Pawar had sent a message to the BJP, Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah expressing his demands. This was the reason why Pawar didn't make any strong remark against the BJP after the results of the Maharashtra Assembly elections were out.
Since there were no positive signals from the BJP on his demands, the NCP chief had a 45-50-minute long meeting with Modi in the Parliament on November 20. But Modi didn't agree to his demands during the meeting.
On November 22, Sharad Pawar's nephew and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar offered support to the BJP. It was said that Ajit Pawar had the backing of around 30-35 MLAs who were ready to support the BJP.
It was also speculated that Sharad Pawar gave his tactical consent to his nephew's move but afterwards he took to Twitter to deny the alliance of the NCP with the BJP.
"Ajit Pawar's decision to support the BJP to form the Maharashtra government is his personal decision and not that of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
We place on record that we do not support or endorse this decision of his," Sharad Pawar had tweeted.
If sources are to be believed, Sharad Pawar was hoping that the BJP will agree to his demands as it was left reeling in the state after the Shiv Sena broke the alliance, but this didn't happen. Finally, he decided to form the government in alliance with the Shiv Sena and the Congress.
Sharad Pawar was aware that the move will be beneficial for him because his decision to side with the Sena will earn him the title of 'modern day Chanakya', while had he gone with the BJP, he would have got a say in the Central government too.
Dilip Deodhar, RSS ideologue from Nagpur, told IANS, "There was a buzz about Sharad Pawar's demands in the Sangh, but Modi's denial was more than that. Since the farmers' issue is one of the main matters in the state, the agriculture ministry would have been the best bet for the NCP. Sharad Pawar had earlier served as the agriculture minister.
"Secondly, Fadnavis was the choice of Modi so there was no question of replacing him. When Sharad Pawar finally understood that the BJP will not agree to his demands, he decided to ally with the Sena and the Congress."
(Navneet Mishra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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