- Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray addressed a joint press conference
- Mr Pawar said some MLAs of NCP were cheated into attending oath ceremony
- Mr Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar sworn in Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar today said some MLAs of his party were cheated into attending the early morning oath ceremony in which his nephew Ajit Pawar was sworn in along with the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis. Ajit Pawar has become Deputy Chief Minister to Mr Fadnavis in a twist that has stunned the Shiv Sena, which was hoping to form government with support from the NCP and Congress.
Addressing a press conference with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar paraded three MLAs who were at the oath ceremony and said: "We are absolutely certain that the BJP-led government which is sworn in today does not have the numbers to pass a floor test. We completely back the Shiv Sena and want a government under Uddhav Thackeray."
He asserted: "They won't be able prove a majority. After that our three parties will form the government as we had decided earlier."
One of the "rebel" NCP MLAs at the press conference said: "We just got a call from Ajit Pawar, so we went. We had no clue that this was against the party stand."
Another MLA said: "We found out that 8-10 of our MLAs along with Ajit Pawar assembled for a sudden meeting. The next we know that the oath taking ceremony takes place. We had no clue of any of this." He added: "We are in no way part of all this and Ajit Pawar has acted independently. The NCP, all of us, are still with the Shiv Sena and Congress."
According to Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar produced letters of support that had been collected from NCP MLAs for the Shiv Sena-led alliance. "We can't rule out that the governor was cheated. Ajit Pawar may
have submitted ready-made list of NCP MLAs," he said.
"We want a government led by the Shiv Sena , and we will stay together for this," Mr Pawar said.
"This is nothing but a political surgical strike by the BJP," said Uddhav Thackeray.
Last night, Mr Pawar had pledged support to a Shiv Sena-led alliance along with the Congress and announced that Uddhav Thackeray would be chief minister.
Mr Pawar said he had received a call in the morning at 6.30 am that a meeting had been called at Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's house.
"Except Ajit Pawar, none of the other NCP MLAs went for the swearing in ceremony. The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance is still active. All the elected MLAs have given their support to this alliance," Mr Pawar said.
Asked whether he would sequester his MLAs before the test of strength in the assembly, Mr Pawar said: "We will do whatever it takes to keep the flock together."
The NCP chief has called a meeting of all MLAs at 4.30 pm.
Ajit Pawar has been removed as leader of the NCP legislature party. Mr Pawar said he had not decided on expelling his nephew from the party.
Uddhav Thackeray was also asked whether he feared the BJP would take away some of Sena's 56 MLAs. "Let them try," replied Mr Thackeray.