NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who resigned on late September this year amidst allegations of irrigation scam, has rejoined the Maharashtra Cabinet as deputy chief minister on 7 December. Governor K Sankaranarayanan administered oath of office to Pawar in the presence of the Maharashtra Chief Minister. Opposition BJP and Shiv Sena boycotted the swearing in.
TEHELKA’s Assistant Editor Rana Ayyub reveals that Pawar’s post in the State Cabinet was kept vacant for his return. “Though the investigation regarding the scam appeared free and fair on paper, we all know how it works in Maharashtra,” says Ayyub. Opposition allege Pawar’s clout in sugar cooperative got him the clean chit on the ‘White Paper’ on irrigation projects, she says.
There have been a lot of speculation on future of Prithiviraj Chavan as Chief Minister. “The relation between Pawar and Chavan was on shaky grounds from the start,” says Ayyub. Pawar’s resignation gave the notion that Chavan would resigned by September. But the Congress and the NCP reached an agreement, according to which Ajit Pawar was given a clean chit and Prithviraj Chavan continued as CM. NCP had alleged that most RTI queries regarding the irrigation scam were filled on Prithviraj Chavan’s behest who wanted to mount pressure on NCP.
The agreement has also made Ajit Pawar come out as a strong candidate within the ranks and files of NCP. “Now with the Congress-NCP issue resolved, the problem is within the NCP ranks. Sharad Pawar is likely to take a backseat and not contest in the election next year. He wants to create a safe place for his daughter Supriya Sule. Pawar is lobbying for a stronger position for his daughter in the Central government. Now there will be a direct battle between Ajit and Supriya not just in Maharashtra but about the Union government as well,” says Ayyub.