After staying away from the Maharashtra Cabinet for 72 days, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar made a comeback as Deputy Chief Minister amid sharp criticism from the Opposition parties and social activists.
Though Ajit’s re-induction was anticipated following the tabling of the White Paper on irrigation projects, it was not known when he would return. According to NCP and Congress sources , one of the reasons that worked in Ajit’s favour was the Shiv Sena’s notice of no-trust motion to be moved in this Winter Session of the Assembly beginning December 10.
Under normal circumstances, the Congress with 82 MLAs and its ally in NCP with 62 MLAs would not be worried as they on their own touch the half way mark of 144 in the Legislative Assembly that has a strength of 288. Besides their own strength, they also enjoy the support of 22 independents. On the other hand, Shiv Sena with 44 MLAs is only the second leading party in the Opposition as the BJP with 47 MLAs have their Opposition leader in Eknath Khadse.
However, the Congress and NCP were worried as Ajit was out of the ministry. He commands the support and loyalty of 20 odd MLAs and this could change the equation in favour of the Shiv Sena.
Sources in the Congress are questioning the Shiv Sena’s move on no-trust despite knowing very well that it may not succeed in its attempt.
Congress leaders said that Shiv Sena’s no-trust has come as boon in disguise to Ajit who was evidently not enjoying being out of power after he stepped down on September 25. “Though the Democratic Front (DF) government in Maharashtra is not a minority one, the Ajit Pawar factor cannot be ignored during the no-trust move of the Shiv Sena.
He is said to be a very vindictive person and can go to any length to settle scores. This is the reason why Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was also keen to see him back in the ministry,” said a senior Congress leader.