Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, citing health reasons, abstained from the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Later in the evening, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis left for Delhi, while Ajit Pawar's NCP faction gathered at his official residence, Devgiri, signaling significant political developments in the state.
Speculation about Pawar's dissatisfaction with CM Shinde had been circulating for the past few days. A meeting between the three leaders on Saturday was expected to have resolved their differences. However, when Pawar skipped the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, speculations resurfaced, intensifying when Shinde and Fadnavis hastily departed for Delhi, and NCP leaders convened at Pawar's residence.
Sources indicate that Pawar's unhappiness stems from the BJP's firm stance on guardian minister appointments in Pune and several other districts. Additionally, concerns arose regarding the formula, primarily devised by Fadnavis, for cabinet expansion and political appointments to state-owned corporations. These concerns, combined with the confrontational stance of Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule, and their family members, led to speculations about the possibility of Ajit Pawar's return to the NCP. The Delhi meeting is expected to provide clarity on this matter.
The BJP is wary of potential repercussions from Rahul Gandhi's strong reaction to the deaths in Maharashtra government hospitals. Internal political disagreements within the Maharashtra government could further complicate matters for the party. Consequently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is anticipated to provide clear directives on cabinet portfolio allocation, new appointments, and effective government coordination to CM Shinde and DCM Fadnavis.
Shah is also expected to offer guidance on managing the situation in light of Shiv Sena (UBT)'s assertiveness regarding disqualification petitions awaiting resolution before the Speaker of the Assembly, Adv Rahul Narvekar.