Dhananjay Munde, who was said to be Ajit Pawar's chief collaborator in the move to break away from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and support the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis, made a surprising appearance on Saturday evening at a meeting called by NCP chief Sharad Pawar to take stock of the party's MLAs.
Dhananjay Munde, 44, caused a commotion as he walked into the NCP headquarters at the YB Chavan Centre in Mumbai to join the Sharad Pawar group.
In the morning, three of the NCP MLAs who attended the early morning oath ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy said they had received a call at midnight and asked to go to Mr Munde's home at 7 am before being taken to the Governor's house for the swearing in at 7.50 am. "Before we realised what was happening, we saw Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar being administered oath by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari," they said.
Mr Munde remained MIA for much of the day, reinforcing speculation that he had joined Ajit Pawar. Reports said he had been in touch with Mr Fadnavis over the past few days.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had said that he would return. "Dhananjay Munde has been contacted. Ajit Pawar may also return. We have information how Ajit Pawar has been blackmailed and will expose this soon," Mr Raut had told reporters in the morning.
Mr Munde defeated his cousin and BJP leader Pankaja Munde in last month's Maharashtra election.
He had left the BJP to join the NCP in 2009, upset with his uncle Gopinath Munde for fielding his daughter Pankaja in Parli, a family stronghold.