Senior NCP leader Praful Patel on Thursday fanned speculations about change of leadership in Maharashtra government, while saying that Ajit Pawar can certainly become Chief Minister of the state one day. Though Patel, known for his calculated statements, said the post is occupied as of now and there is no point in discussing the topic, his statement has disturbed the members of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s party.
Speculations about Ajit Pawar becoming CM have been going around since the day he joined the government on July 2. To calm down the agitated members of the Shinde camp, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis also tried to clear air earlier this week by saying that Shinde will be the CM and elections will be contested under his leadership. Ajit Pawar, too, is said to have snubbed some of the leaders from his camp to avoid unnecessary statements.
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan had last week predicted that 16 MLAs of the Shinde camp will be disqualified and due to the adverse decision Shinde will have to step down by August 10. Congress leader in the legislative council, Abhijit Vanjari, had also termed Shinde’s Delhi visit to PM along with the family as a send-off package.
On this backdrop the political analysts had been anticipating a political earthquake around August 10. Patel's statement today has fanned the speculations around change of leadership in the state.
Meanwhile, a section within the BJP is not happy with these speculations. Firebrand leader from Baramati, Gopichand Padalkar, said that Patel’s statement need not be given importance. “Once a leader like Fadnavis has made things clear, nothing else matters. The BJP has its own 105 members. They have support of around 15 independents and others. Their stand is very clear,” he said.
Praful Patel praises Ajit Pawar
Patel also said, "Ajit Pawar is certainly a very prominent and popular leader of Maharashtra. He has been leading the NCP for past few years. One who works sincerely gets an opportunity some day or the other. Many hardworking people have gotten opportunities in the past. Hence, I'm sure Ajit Pawar too will get an opportunity to become Chief Minister some day."
Patel, however, declined to comment on Election Commission's letter to Sharad Pawar-led faction of NCP seeking their response to Ajit Pawar faction staking claim to the party name and symbol. The Pawar faction on Thursday said that they have received the letter and that they will reply accordingly.