NCP contacts 3 ‘missing’ MLAs, claims they are with party

NCP chief Sharad Pawar distanced himself from his nephew Ajit Pawar’s decision to become the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra and said that the NCP does not support this decision. File photo: PTI

The NCP has claimed that three of its five MLAs, who went missing on Saturday (November 23) after attending the swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra’s Chief
Minister along with NCPs Ajit Pawar as his deputy, have been contacted and they are with the party.

Till Sunday morning, five NCP MLAs – Daulat Daroda (Shahapur), Nitin Pawar (Kalwan), Narhari Zhirwal (Dindori), Babasaheb Patil (Ahmedpur), Anil Patil (Amalner) – were reported missing, party spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

The party has been able to contact Anil Patil, Babasaheb Patil and Daroda, he said.

Malik took to Twitter and tagged Anil Patil’s tweet in which the latter said he continues to be part of the NCP and expressed faith in the leadership of Sharad Pawar.

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In the tweet, Patil said he went to the Raj Bhawan since Ajit Pawar was the legislature party leader. “I wasn’t aware about what was going to happen at the Raj Bhawan. I am with Sharad Pawar,” Patil said in the tweet.

Malik said this was an indication of Patil’s return to the party fold.

Earlier on Saturday, Daroda’s family filed a missing person complaint with police.

Malik said on Sunday that the party has released two separate videos of Daroda and Babasheb Patil in which they are seen stating that they are with the NCP.

“Efforts are also on to reach out to Zhirwal and Nitin Pawar. All of them will be back with the party by this evening,” the NCP spokesperson said.

He said efforts were also on to convince Ajit Pawar to return to the party fold.

“It would be better for him if he accepts his mistake. We don’t want him to stay out alone,” Malik said.

In another significant development, BJP MP Sanjay Kakade and NCP leaders Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal and Baban Shinde, who is considered close to Ajit Pawar, met Sharad
Pawar at his residence here in the morning.

After the meeting, which lasted for 15 minutes, Kakade said he came to meet Pawar for his “personal work”. Congress state chief and senior party leader Ashok
Chavan also met Sharad Pawar.

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Later, Chavan told reporters that the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena will form government as they “have the numbers”.

“All the missing NCP MLAs will return to the party fold soon. The Congress MLAs are all together,” he said.

Sources said more than 45 NCP legislators, including Sharad Pawar’s grand nephew Rohit Pawar, were shifted to a suburban hotel to prevent them from being poached.

Fadnavis on Saturday returned as chief minister propped up by Ajit Pawar, who was made his deputy, just hours after the new alliance of Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress
reached a consensus that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be their chief ministerial candidate.

Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at a hush-hush ceremony here, leading to lifting of the President’s rule in the state.

Ajit Pawar’s volte-face created fissures in the NCP, whose chief Sharad Pawar distanced himself from his nephew’s dramatic action, saying the decision to back Fadnavis was his
personal choice and not that of the party.

On Saturday evening, the NCP removed Ajit Pawar as the party’s legislature unit head, saying his move was not in line with the party’s policies.

The BJP and the Sena, which fought the last month’s Assembly polls in an alliance secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively.

The Sena, however, broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister’s post.

The Congress and the NCP, both pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats respectively.