NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, while speaking to media on Thursday, confirmed that NCP had agreed to support BJP government from outside in Maharashtra which led to a short-lived government of Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar. This revelation by Sharad Pawar came a day after Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in an exclusive interview to Republic said that Pawar had agreed to give support to the BJP after Uddhav Thackeray took back support.
The NCP chief in a conversation to the media said, “I have read the comments by Fadnavis and he said that I changed my stand in two days.”
“I had assured that I would support the government from outside. He (Fadnavis) said that I changed the stand in two days then why did he take oath after two days” Pawar asked.
In an exclusive interview with Arnab Goswami, Fadnavis spoke out on the short-lived coalition between the BJP and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in November 2019. Fadnavis revealed a previously unsubstantiated but long-speculated detail that the alliance was only formed with Sharad Pawar’s approval.
In the exclusive interview given to Republic Media Network on Wednesday, Fadnavis claimed that Pawar had betrayed the BJP by pulling out of the coalition just days before the oath taking, leaving it weakened. Combining many questions and perspectives about Pawar and his behaviour, Fadnavis said, “You’ll have to understand Sharad Pawar’s history if you want to understand his mystery.”
“I can say this clearly. When Uddhav Thackeray severed ties with us and got in touch with Congress-NCP for the CM’s chair, we deliberated on our alternatives because Uddhav ji wasn’t even picking our calls,” Fadnavis said referring to the break-up of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance after almost three decades despite them winning the 2019 Maharashtra election. The separation had been on account of Shiv Sena insisting on the CM’s post, or at least a 2.5-year split, despite being the junior partner in the alliance.
“At the time, some people from NCP said that few leaders can join the BJP because they want a stable government. We had a meeting with Sharad Pawar and it was decided that we will form the government in Maharashtra and we prepared the modus operandi. We decided that Ajit Pawar and I will take the alliance forward and we made preparations for that. But at one fine moment, Sharad Pawar separated during the preparations. This happened 3 or 4 days before we took the oath,” the current Deputy CM said.
What came next was among the least-noticed events in modern Indian political history, as November 23, 2019 dawned in Maharashtra and then-Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath of office to Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar.
Fadnavis lamented, “Ajit Pawar was left with no alternative but to come with us because we had made all the preparations. Otherwise, he would have been exposed and finished. Ajit Pawar said that we will form the government and Pawar Saheb will finally join us, but he did not and we had to end the government”. The surprise alliance was gone as quickly as it came as NCP legislators flocked to Sharad Pawar’s newly minted MVA alliance with Shiv Sena and Congress. Not long after, Ajit Pawar also followed suit and was once again made Deputy CM.
“The idea of an alliance at the time began with discussions with Sharad Pawar,” Fadnavis reiterated wistfully adding that “what Uddhav Thackeray did was backstab. But what Pawar Saheb did was leave after using and misleading us. He played a double-game.”
Devendra Fadnavis reacts
Reacting to Pawar’s comments, Fadnavis said he was “very happy”. “At least I got the truth out of Sharad Pawar, but this is not the complete truth.’