Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar on Sunday praised his uncle and party chief Sharad Pawar as "Saheb" who is "our leader". Ajit Pawar, who was named Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister on Saturday, said he has not left the NCP. He was removed as NCP Legislature Party leader on Saturday.
"I am in the NCP and shall always be in the NCP and Sharad Pawar Saheb is our leader. Our BJP-NCP alliance shall provide a stable government in Maharashtra for the next five years which will work sincerely for the welfare of the state and its people," Ajit Pawar tweeted.
I am in the NCP and shall always be in the NCP and @PawarSpeaks Saheb is our leader.— Ajit Pawar (@AjitPawarSpeaks) November 24, 2019
Our BJP-NCP alliance shall provide a stable Government in Maharashtra for the next five years which will work sincerely for the welfare of the State and its people.
The latest tweet by the NCP leader is seen as an attempt to lay claim to his uncle's hold over the party, many of whose 54 MLAs the BJP would need to form government.
Ajit Pawar also tweeted a battery of thanks in a span of eight minutes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 20 other BJP leaders, a day after he was made Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
"Thank you Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji. We will ensure a stable Government that will work hard for the welfare of the people of Maharashtra," tweeted Mr Pawar, whose uncle Sharad Pawar has been working to form government with the Congress and its ideological opposite the Shiv Sena.
Ajit Pawar also changed his bio on Twitter to reflect his new role - "Deputy Chief Minister, Maharashtra, Nationalist Congress Party Leader".
His first thank-you tweet to PM Modi was followed by another tweet to BJP chief Amit Shah. "Honorable Home Minister Amit Shah, thank you for your good wishes," Mr Pawar said. It was followed by yet another round of thanks to Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani and Rajnath Singh.
The other leaders to whom the NCP leader tweeted his thanks are Amruta Fadnavis, Ravi Kishan, BL Santhosh, Dharmendra Pradhan, Anurag Thakur, Ramdas Athawale, Mansukh Mandaviya, Vijay Rupani, Girish Bapat, Suresh Prabhu, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Sadananda Gowda, Jagat Prakash Nadda and Piyush Goyal - all of them from the BJP.
The messages to which Ajit Pawar replied today were congratulatory ones that he received on Saturday after he took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister a little over an hour after sunrise, a swift development in Maharashtra politics that surprised the other main parties trying to form government. The BJP's Devendra Fadnavis took oath as the Chief Minister for a second term.
The BJP-led government, however, is yet to pass a floor test.
The street battles between the BJP and the Congress-Shiv Sena-NCP combine - their MLAs have been herded around to secure them from being poached - moved to the Supreme Court today, with the top court ruling that the centre must show the letters of Mr Fadnavis claiming majority and that of the Governor inviting to form government. The letters have to be submitted by 10.30 am on Monday.
Mr Fadnavis went into a huddle with BJP MLAs this evening after the top court's order, so did NCP and Sena MLAs who are staying at two separate hotels. Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray tweeted a photo of the meeting:
The BJP claims it has the support of 54 MLAs of the NCP. Sharad Pawar's party has countered it, saying Ajit Pawar had misled the Governor, submitting a letter with a list of MLAs that was meant to show support letter to the alliance. The NCP says it has 50 MLAs with it, most of whom attended a meeting last evening in which Ajit Pawar was pulled down from the post of the legislature party leader.