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Ajit Pawar’s Road to Mantralaya: The Story Behind Maharashtra Coup

Discreet phone calls, a dissatisfied Ajit Pawar, a family rift – here’s what led to Ajit Pawar’s alliance with BJP.

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From being accused in a Rs 70,000-crore irrigation scam before the Maharashtra elections to being sworn in as the deputy CM of Maharashtra after breaking away from his party on Saturday morning, 23 November, Ajit Pawar is indeed the man of the moment.

Ajit Pawar’s move away from NCP took everyone by surprise. In fact, party chief Sharad Pawar alleged that Ajit may have misused letters of support collected from party MLAs for the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance. But here’s one question everyone is asking: how did Ajit Pawar stitch together this unlikely alliance, without anyone knowing, to cement his spot in the Mantralaya?

Discreet Phone Calls & Backdoor Meetings

The Sena-Congress-NCP alliance regularly updated the media on details of their closed-door meetings which focused on discussing a power-sharing formula. BJP, on the other hand, kept its cards close to its chest when it came to its contact with Ajit Pawar.

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The Indian Express reported that there were hectic but discreet negotiations between BJP’s top leadership and Ajit Pawar over the past few days – with Amit Shah’s most trusted lieutenant and the BJP in-charge of elections in Maharashtra, Bhupender Yadav on the job.

However, Mumbai Mirror has reported that the alliance came to fruition over a series of phone calls between Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar.

A Dissatisfied Ajit Pawar?

But it seems Ajit Pawar has been dissatisfied with his future in NCP.

Citing sources, NDTV has reported that Ajit Pawar was worried that his uncle may, at some point in the future, ditch him in favour of his daughter Supriya Sule and that the two have not been getting along. Interestingly, hours after Ajit Pawar joined hands with the BJP, Supriya Sule changed her WhatsApp status and wrote "Party and Family splits".

In 2014, Ajit Pawar was forced to resign as Deputy Chief Minister in the Congress-NCP government over allegations that he was involved in the Rs 70,000-crore irrigation scam. Later, Devendra Fadnavis, after taking over as chief minister, had in fact sanctioned an anti-corruption investigation against Ajit Pawar.

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ED’s Ghost Looming Over NCP

Before the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, in September, the Enforcement Directorate filed a chargesheet naming both Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam to the tune of Rs 25,000. They were accused of money laundering, following which Ajit Pawar quit as an MLA.

When it comes to Ajit Pawar’s dramatic shift to the BJP, there has also been speculation that the ED probe against Ajit Pawar may be a crucial factor.

The Pawars are not the only NCP leaders in trouble. Praful Patel is also being probed by the central investigating agency in the Air India profitable seat-sharing deal and a property deal case linked to Iqbal Mirchi. Mirchi is an accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts and a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim.

The RSS Factor

According to reports by Mumbai Mirror, although there was little indication of RSS’ involvement, Jagdish Kadam, Ajit Pawar’s maternal uncle and an RSS functionary from Ahmadnagar, was given the responsibility for exploiting the cracks in the Pawar family.

There could have been multiple reasons why Ajit Pawar decided to script a dramatic turn in the Maharashtra political drama – but the results have not turned out like Ajit might have expected.

Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP are headed to the Supreme Court, urging that a floor test be held within 24 hours against the 30 November deadline given by Governor Khoshyari.

Can the BJP-NCP alliance can pass the floor test? Or will Maharashtra’s fortunes change again?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Amit Shah   Sharad Pawar   Ajit Pawar 

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