NCP leader Ajit Pawar has offered party MLAs ministerial posts if they switch sides and support the BJP, a group of them said at a meeting in a Mumbai hotel on Sunday evening. Around 50 NCP MLAs, stashed away at the Renaissance Hotel in the city to guard them from poaching attempts, told party chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray that Ajit Pawar had made these offers via phone calls. Sharad Pawar and Mr Thackeray had called for the meeting to boost the MLAs morale amid chaos and confusion created by Saturday morning's events, when Ajit Pawar led a breakaway faction of 10-11 NCP MLAs to back the BJP in government formation.
Sources within the NCP told news agency ANI that Mr Thackeray, on being told of Ajit Pawar's approaches, reassured the MLAs that the Sena-NCP alliance would win through and that it would eventually form the government in the state.
Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray held a closed-door consultation after the meeting with the MLAs. The meeting was attended by Sena leaders Sanjay Raut, Eknath Shinde and Aaditya Thackeray.
Ajit Pawar, who resigned as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister in September 2012 in the wake of an irrigation scam, has also been named in an Rs 25,000 crore Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank Ltd. scam.
As the meeting was going on, he was busy tweeting a barrage of thanks to senior BJP leaders, starting from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
"Thank you Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modiji. We will ensure a stable Government that will work hard for the welfare of the people of Maharashtra," he tweeted.
Ajit Pawar's support of the BJP has been slammed by both the NCP and the Sena. Mr Raut called it a "stab in the back of the people of Maharashtra" and Sharad Pawar, who dismissed his actions on Saturday as "personal", has removed him as the legislative leader of the party, meaning he cannot issue whips to MLAs to force them to vote for the BJP in a floor test.
Pandemonium broke out in Maharashtra in the early hours of Saturday morning after the BJP returned to power in the state. Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar became his deputy.
The move came only hours after a tripartite meeting between the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP, which was attended by Ajit Pawar, appeared to all but settle the question of government formation. The parties approached the Supreme Court this morning seeking an immediate floor test.
With an eye on that test, the Sena, the Congress and the NCP have rushed to guard their MLAs by stashing them in hotels around Mumbai. NCP MLAs have been moved to the Renaissance Hotel, Sena MLAs are in Lalit Hotel and the Congress has moved its MLAs to JW Marriott.
Shortly after the NCP MLAs met, BJP MLAs also held a meeting that was attended by Chief Minister Fadnavis. at which Maharashtra BJP criticised the Sena for insulting the 'mahayuti' alliance.
With input from ANI