BJP MP Sanjay Kakade met NCP chief Sharad Pawar this morning after the BJP pulled off a midnight stunner and made a dramatic comeback to form government in Maharashtra on Saturday with the support of Ajit Pawar, the NCP's patriarch's nephew.
Soon after the meeting, which Mr Kakade told the reporters he had "met Sharad Pawar for personal reasons", news agency ANI reported. Jayant Patil, who replaced Ajit Pawar on Saturday as the NCP Legislature Party chief after he joined hands with the BJP, was also present at the meeting between the NCP chief and Mr Kakade. Chhagan Bhujbal and Baban Shinde were also leaders who attended the meet.
The meeting between Sharad Pawar and Mr Kakade, which lasted for about 15 minutes, came ahead of the hearing in the Supreme Court on a petition filed by the Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party against the centre's move to end President's Rule in Maharashtra and the Governor's move to invite Devendra Fadnavis to form government.
On Saturday, Ajit Pawar was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra along with Devendra Fadnavis, who took oath as the Chief Minister for a second consecutive term, at a quiet ceremony hours after the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena had announced an alliance and said Uddhav Thackeray would be the chief minister.
The NCP chief had said it was his nephew's "personal decision" to support the BJP. He has claimed the NCP MLAs will not support the BJP-led government in the state.
Mr Kakade, who was earlier with the NCP, is the first BJP leader to reach out to Sharad Pawar since the government formation. The BJP leader had earlier claimed that 45 MLAs of Shiv Sena, his party's former ally, were ready to support his party.
Today, the BJP also objected to the removal of Ajit Pawar as leader of the NCP legislature party, calling it "invalid". "The letter of support to the governor was given by Ajit Pawar as leader of the NCP's legislature party (on Saturday). Mr Pawar's replacement with Jayant Patil is invalid," BJP's Ashish Shelar told reporters.
The BJP had also justified the move to revoke President's Rule in Maharashtra on Saturday. While imposition and revocation of President's Rule has to be cleared by the Union Cabinet, the party said it was bypassed through a particular rule in the Allocation of Business Rules 1961. Under it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, vested with special powers, had given the green signal.
The BJP had won 105 seats in the 288-member assembly followed by Shiv Sena (56), NCP (54) and Congress (44) in the state elections held last month. Despite being the single largest party, the BJP could not form government with Shiv Sena which remained firm on its demand of "50:50 power sharing".