Is Maharashtra’s Operation Lotus Going Through A Wilt? Ajit Pawar’s Tending May Not Suffice

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Is Maharashtra’s Operation Lotus Going Through A Wilt? Ajit Pawar’s Tending May Not Suffice

| Updated: April 26, 2023 19:15

Even though the BJP may want to project it as a clean sweep for 2024, the saffron party is clearly passing through doldrums. Poll-bound Karnataka has reported some major defections to the Congress. That itself is a psychological dent. Then comes the fact that the Opposition is rallying for unity with Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee leading from the front. 

And now boiling over the surface is the long festering problem in the coalition stitched together with the Shiv Sena (Shinde). Ever since, the NCP and Congress, the other two partners in the Maha Vikas Aghadi broke away from the Shiv Sena (S) because they did not want to enter into any alliance with the BJP, political watchers cautioned on the crucial Supreme Court judgement that could alter the entire game: does Eknath Shinde’s “rebellion” qualify as “defection.” 

In recent weeks, power corridors have been abuzz with rumours that Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party will lead a group of MLAs to join the Maharashtra government. The government is currently headed by Eknath Shinde, who, along with 16 MLAs, broke ranks with Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena to join hands with the BJP in June 2022. Twenty-four more MLAs later joined Shinde. Shinde holds the chief minister’s position while Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP is his deputy.

It was a matter of time before the highly-wrought political drama landed in the Supreme Court. The apex bench is soon to decide whether the rebellion by Shinde and his group amounts to defection. However, if the SC rules against the Shinde faction and disqualifies the MLAs, the government will be reduced to a minority;. It is to ward off such a possibility that the BJP has been trying to rope in Ajit Pawar and his group, observers say.

Ironically, if Ajit Pawar – whose uncle Sharad Pawar is the head of the Nationalist Congress Party – does jump ship, it will create a host of other problems for the BJP.

To begin with, who will don the CM’s role? Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis has waited long enough but if anyone knows Ajit Pawar’s love for the chair, the BJP would commit a blunder by denying him that. Added, Pawar is still under his heavyweight uncle’s wings. Should Sharad Pawar oust him from the NCP for “anti-party” activities, it will again mean eating the dust for BJP. 

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