There were raised eyebrows in both, the ruling and opposition party, after Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and former CM Devendra Fadnavis shared the dais at an event on Friday. However, neither was it a political meeting, nor was it private. They had gathered to launch a Covid-19 health centre at Pimpri-Chinchwad. Ajit Pawar is the guardian minister of Pune district while the Fadnavis-led BJP is the ruling party in the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations.
However, even before the rumour mills began to grind, Ajit Pawar himself strongly defended the dais-sharing with Fadnavis. "What is wrong if the ruling party and the opposition come together in times of Covid-19 crisis?’’ he asked mediapersons present at the function.
Further, he said, it was a Maharashtra tradition that the ruling and opposition parties came together in times of crisis.
But the timing of the duo's joint appearance is important, given that the BJP has been stepping up attacks against the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi on a range of issues, including setting new deadlines for its imminent collapse. Not only that, the BJP has been targeting the Shiv Sena, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya but has been sparing the NCP and the Pawar duo, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit. This is important as a section of the BJP still feels the government will not complete its five-year tenure and the party hopes to regain power in Maharashtra, either with the NCP or a breakaway faction.
The occurrence comes days after Sharad Pawar's public remonstration of his grandnephew and Ajit Pawar’s son Parth, for demanding a CBI probe into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and for terming the groundbreaking for the Ram temple at Ayodhya as a 'historic day'. Parth had also hogged headlines for welcoming the Supreme Court order allowing a CBI probe into the SSR case by tweeting,'Satyamev Jayate'. Both Ajit Pawar and Parth have declined to comment but a section of the NCP feel their silence may create problems for the party in the coming days.
Incidentally, those who had gathered at the venue, recalled how Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, who had taken oath as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively, in an early morning swearing-in ceremony at the Raj Bhavan on November 23 last year. Pawar’s rebellion had stunned his party, as he had reportedly even kept his uncle in the dark, joining hands with Fadnavis in a late-night coup.
After 80 hours, the situation had changed, with Pawar returning to the NCP while Fadnavis became leader of opposition in the state assembly.