MUMBAI: In a surprise development in Maharashtra politics, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as Chief Minister on Saturday morning with NCP leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy.
The development comes hours after NCP Chief Sharad Pawar said that the Congress and NCP have consented Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray to become Maharashtra Chief Minister. The alliance of the three parties was expected to stake claim for government formation on Monday.
However, at around 8 am on Saturday morning, Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar went to Raj Bhavan where Governor BS Koshyari administered them the oath of office and secrecy.
The Governor's move came after President's rule was revoked at 5.47 am.
The notification revoking President's rule in Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/JSbAIOFUE6— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2019
Ajit Pawar said he reached his decision to join hands with the BJP on his own.
"From result day on October 24, no party was able to form the government. Maharashtra was facing many problems, including farmers issues. So we decided to form a stable government", he said.
While it is yet unclear as to how many MLAs have supported Ajit Pawar, sources close to him have said that he has the support of at least 22 out of a total of 54 NCP MLAs.
BJP sources said that a few MLAs from the Shiv Sena too are in “touch” with them.
"I would like to express my gratitude to NCP's Ajit Pawar ji for taking the decision and coming together with BJP for a stable government in Maharashtra. Some other leaders also came with us and we staked claim to form the government. After that, we have also staked claim to Governor for the government formation," Fadnavis told to ANI after taking oath.
"The Governor requested the President to withdraw the President's rule in Maharashtra and invited us to form the government. I have a firm belief that we will provide a stable government to Maharashtra," he said.
"I extend my gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah and working president JP Nadda for giving me chance to serve Maharashtra as the Chief Minister again," the newly sworn in CM further added.
"People had given us a clear mandate, but Shiv Sena tried to ally with other parties after results, after which President's rule was imposed. Maharashtra needed a stable govt not a 'khichidi' govt," Fadnavis said.
Ajit Pawar backed the BJP and with the support of Independent lawmakers and smaller parties, the saffron party decided to stake claim to form the government, he said.
The development has come as a shock to several of the NCP leaders including party chief Sharad Pawar, who has started calling party MLAs to ascertain their loyalties, sources said.
However, media reports cliamed Pawar was part of discussions for Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government formation and gave his assent to Ajit Pawar to take oath as Deputy CM.
मी देवेंद्र गंगाधरराव फडणवीस... pic.twitter.com/hdtIH35DN6— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) November 23, 2019
Ajit Pawar will also be NCP's Parliamentary board head, the sources further claimed.
The senior Pawar, while reacting to the latest twist, said, "Ajit Pawar's decision to support the BJP to form the Maharashtra Government is his personal decision and not that of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). We place on record that we do not support or endorse this decision of his".
Nagpur: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers celebrate after Devendra Fadnavis takes oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister, again. pic.twitter.com/t1ab9j4USH— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2019
"This is not NCP's decision and does not have Sharad Pawar saheb's support", senior NCP leader and former union minister Praful Patel said.
Reacting to the development, Congress said Devendra Fadnavis being sworn-in as the Maharashtra chief minister was a "betrayal of people's mandate".
"This is called betrayal of people's mandate and giving contract for killing democracy," Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a tweet.
He also tagged media reports on allegations of Ajit Pawar's involvement in scams.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who was at the forefront of the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena negotiations, said illegal and evil manoeuvres took place in the secrecy of midnight.
"Such was the shame that they had to do the swearing in hiding.This illegitimate formation will self destruct," he said in a tweet.
Earlier, senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi expressed surprise at the political developments in Maharashtra and said the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena negotiations took too long as the window was grabbed by "fast movers".
"Surreal what I read about Maharashtra. Thought it was fake news. Candidly and personally speaking, our tripartite negotiations should not have gone on for more than 3 days. Took too long. Window given was grabbed by fast movers. Pawarji tussi great ho," he said in a tweet.
Subsequently, in another tweet, Singhvi said, "My tweet at 845 am today while in a taking off flight to ahmdabad has, hopefully, been overtaken by events in view of #Sharadji's clarification. Even then I had called it surreal &possibly fake news. Appears that fakeness of full #NCP joining bjp is true as per #Pawar clarfn."
Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut, who led the verbal offensive in last two weeks against BJP, said Ajit Pawar had stabbed the Uddhav Thackrey-led party in the back by joining hands with the BJP to form the government.
Raut also said the state will never forgive Ajit Pawar for this act of his.
"Ajit Pawar has stabbed the Shiv Sena in the back. Joining hands with the BJP to form the government is betrayal," he said.
"Ajit Pawar's decision does not have the approval of NCP chief Sharad Pawar," Raut said.
He added that Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray will address a joint press conference soon.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari congratulated Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar for taking oath as the chief minister and the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra respectively on Saturday.
In a tweet, Gadkari said under the leadership of Fadnavis and Pawar, the "chariot of Maharashtra's development" will move ahead rapidly.
BJP chief Amit Shah too, while congratulating both Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar for fomring the new Maharashtra government, expressed confidence that the new state government will scale new heights of development.
श्री @Dev_Fadnavis जी को महाराष्ट्र के मुख्यमंत्री और श्री @AjitPawarSpeaks को प्रदेश के उपमुख्यमंत्री के रूप में शपथ लेने पर हार्दिक बधाई।— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) November 23, 2019
मुझे विश्वास है कि यह सरकार महाराष्ट्र के विकास और कल्याण के प्रति निरंतर कटिबद्ध रहेगी और प्रदेश में प्रगति के नये मापदंड स्थापित करेगी।
PM Modi too wished Fadnavis and Pawar.
Pawar on Friday said there was a consensus on Thackeray's leadership, after a marathon meeting of top leaders of the Congress, the NCP and the Sena, who were making efforts to form government in Maharashtra.
Congratulations to @Dev_Fadnavis Ji and @AjitPawarSpeaks Ji on taking oath as the CM and Deputy CM of Maharashtra respectively. I am confident they will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 23, 2019
"There is a consensus that leadership of the government will be with Uddhav Thackeray," he told reporters after the meeting.
He said the meeting at Nehru Centre in central Mumbai deliberated extensively on finalising an agenda for governance.
All three parties had agreed that Shiv Sena would keep the chief minister's post for a full five-year term and there would be no rotation among the alliance, which was the main reason why Sena broke up with its ally BJP, who had refused to share the chief minister’s post for 2.5 years each.
WATCH: Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut addresses the media in Mumbai https://t.co/x25iBkbDnP— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2019
Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who continued deliberations with other leaders for some more time, said that though the discussions were moving on a positive track, some details were yet to be decided and the deliberations shall continue further.
He however, avoided to endorse the statement made by NCP Chief Sharad Pawar.
(With Agencies Inputs)