Ajit Pawar Flies To Delhi As Power Sharing Talks With Shinde-Fadnavis Remain Inconclusive

Ajit Pawar Flies To Delhi As Power Sharing Talks With Shinde-Fadnavis Remain Inconclusive

Pawar and his supporters had joined the ruling BJP-SS alliance on July 2, but there has been no consensus on the distribution of portfolios thus far.

Abhijit MulyeUpdated: Wednesday, July 12, 2023, 10:52 PM IST
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Against the backdrop of ongoing disputes between the BJP, Shiv Sena, and NCP regarding the allocation of ministerial portfolios, Deputy Chief Minister and NCP rebel Ajit Pawar rushed to New Delhi on Wednesday evening to escalate the matter with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior BJP leaders. Pawar and his supporters had joined the ruling BJP-SS alliance on July 2, but there has been no consensus on the distribution of portfolios thus far.

Ajit Pawar eyes finance or revenue

The primary issue revolves around Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's refusal to grant the finance portfolio to Ajit Pawar, while the BJP's Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil is unwilling to relinquish the powerful revenue portfolio. Pawar is eager to secure one of these influential portfolios for himself and is expected to meet the BJP's central leadership in New Delhi, accompanied by party colleague Praful Patel.

There is speculation that denying an important portfolio to Ajit Pawar is part of a calculated strategy to diminish his role now that he has joined the government. It is even suggested that Sharad Pawar, with full knowledge, intends to politically marginalise his nephew to boost the career of his daughter Supriya Sule.

Sparks over Raigad guardian minister

Former minister and senior NCP leader Sunil Tatkare clarified that the guardian minister of Raigad district was not a contentious issue between the NCP and Shiv Sena. He also mentioned that the final decision on portfolio allocation and cabinet reshuffling is expected by Thursday evening.

"There is no stalemate. Ajit Pawar had not gone to Delhi after being sworn in. Hence, he has gone to pay courtesy calls," Tatkare stated, adding, "I hope Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will make an appropriate decision. We are always there to work with him in unity."

Regarding the guardian minister of Raigad, Tatkare remarked, "We were never insistent on the issue of (Aditi) being the guardian minister of Raigad. Whenever you decide to work together, you should be aware of others' expectations as well."

Shiv Sena MLA Bharat Gogawale from Mahad, who was earlier appointed as the party's chief whip by Eknath Shinde (a decision overturned by the Supreme Court on May 11), had been vocal about his inclusion in the state cabinet and being appointed as the guardian minister of Raigad district. Tatkare and Gogawale are arch political rivals in Raigad district.

CM insisted on oath-taking before clarity on power sharing equations

Sources indicate that while the NCP wanted to resolve the power-sharing issue before the swearing-in ceremony, CM Shinde insisted on the swearing-in taking place first. In the past 10 days, Shinde, Devendra Fadnavis, and Ajit Pawar have held several rounds of meetings. While many of the initial meetings were between Shinde-Fadnavis and Fadnavis-Pawar, the three leaders had a lengthy meeting on the night of July 7 to address the contentious issues surrounding the finance, revenue, and irrigation ministries.

Finance, revenue, and irrigation are the three ministries that have become the focal point of the power-sharing talks. Shiv Sena MLAs, who previously complained of discrimination by Ajit Pawar as finance minister during the MVA regime, strongly oppose him being granted the same portfolio again. Additionally, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who currently handles the revenue portfolio, is reluctant to relinquish it. The strained relations between the Vikhe-Patil and Pawar families have further complicated the matter. The BJP is left with only the irrigation portfolio, but the corruption allegations against Ajit Pawar during his tenure as the ministry's head have made it challenging for the BJP to hand over the portfolio to him.

Sources suggest that Shinde and Fadnavis may also travel to Delhi on Thursday to address the issues in the presence of the BJP's top leadership.

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