Mumbai: According to media reports, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel claimed that 51 out of the party’s 53 MLAs in Maharashtra had expressed their desire to explore the possibility of aligning with the BJP after the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government last year.
The coalition government comprising the Shiv Sena, the Congress, and the NCP dissolved in June last year after Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and a group of MLAs from the Shiv Sena joined forces with the BJP. Recently, NCP leader Ajit Pawar also dealt another blow to the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition by aligning with the Shinde-led government and taking oath as deputy chief minister for the third time in less than four years.
Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP of the NCP, was among the senior leaders who switched sides with Ajit Pawar. In his interview, Patel, who was known to be close to Sharad Pawar, revealed that internal discussions within the NCP about joining forces with the BJP had taken place after the events of last year but remained inconclusive.
Patel stated that discussions regarding the issue had occurred, but no decision was made at the time. However, now a decision has been made as a party and not individually by him or Ajit Pawar. He also claimed that Jayant Patil was one of the 51 MLAs who wanted Sharad Pawar to consider the possibility of joining the government, with only Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik absent.
Apart from Ajit Pawar, eight other NCP MLAs, including prominent figures such as Chhagan Bhujbal and Dilip Walse Patil, have been appointed as ministers. In response, Sharad Pawar has expelled his nephew Ajit Pawar, Patel, and Sunil Tatkare from the party. Jayant Patil, the Maharashtra unit chief of the NCP, has also approached Speaker Rahul Narwekar to disqualify the rebel ministers from the Assembly.
Ajit Pawar’s faction has retaliated by submitting an application to the Speaker requesting the disqualification of Patil and Jitendra Awhad. On Monday, Speaker Narwekar stated that he is yet to determine whether the NCP is part of the Shiv Sena-BJP government or the opposition. The Speaker’s office has received several representations from MLAs regarding the recent developments, and a decision will be made after a thorough examination of their legality.