What Happened In Maharashtra? Here’s What You Need To Know

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

MUMBAI, INDIA – SEPTEMBER 28: NCP Chief Sharad Pawar talks to media after meeting with Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar at his residence, on September 28, 2019 in Mumbai, India. Ajit Pawar said that he resigned as a legislator after feeling hurt and upset over his uncle and party Chief Sharad Pawar’s name being dragged in the Enforcement Directorates (ED) money-laundering probe at the Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank. (Photo by Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The BJP’s midnight manoeuvring to form the government in Maharashtra has sparked political turmoil in the state, a dramatic change from the stagnant deadlock Maharashtra had been in since the Assembly election results left it without a government. 

While seven NCP MLAs who attended this morning’s surprise swearing in ceremony have defected back to Sharad Pawar from Ajit Pawar according, the Shiv Sena may be moving Supreme Court against the Maharashtra governor. 

Tension within the NCP is also peaking as Sharad and Ajit Pawar scramble to gather the numbers needed to form a government in Maharashtra. PTI reported that NCP workers in Thane were protesting against Ajit Pawar and throwing footwear at his portrait. 

Meanwhile, there were reports of nine defector NCP MLAs being flown to New Delhi in a private jet, eventually turned into four of them returning to Sharad Pawar, TheWire reported. 

Earlier in the day, Sharad Pawar held a press conference where he let two NCP MLAs, who had attended Devendra Fadnavis’ early morning swearing-in ceremony, explain that they did not know what they were participating in until it was too late. The two declared their fealty to Sharad Pawar and said they’d rushed to tell him what had happened at the governor’s residence soon as they realised what had happened. 

The BJP, for its part, has declared that it has the “electoral and moral” mandate to form a government in Maharashtra, PTI reported. 

It dismissed concerns about its previous criticism of Ajit Pawar as “corrupt”, simply saying that the “given situation” called for a stable government. 

That hasn’t stopped Twitter from unearthing an old video of Fadnavis on a stage, declaring that Ajit Pawar would spend his days “chakki pissing, pissing, pissing” in jail. 

So, what happened in Maharashtra today? 

At 5:47am on Saturday, President’s Rule was revoked in Maharashtra, following which BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as chief minister for a second time, with Ajit Pawar as his deputy. 

Even as this news broke on the internet, newspapers across the country were being delivered to houses with front pages declaring Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray would be Maharashtra’s next chief minister as part of a Shiv-Sena-NCP-Congress alliance. 

As people speculated about the inner workings of the NCP, wondering if Ajit Pawar had revolted against party leader and his uncle, Sharad Pawar or if this had all been secretly orchestrated by the senior Pawar himself, Sharad Pawar and daughter Supriya Sule put the rumours to rest by declaring that Ajit had acted of his own accord. 

By mid-day, the tense trio of Sharad Pawar, Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray held a press conference, with a few “rebel” NCP MLAs standing behind them, and slammed the BJP’s late night coup. 

Pawar Senior reiterated what he had already tweeted, saying he did not know of Ajit Pawar’s plans and it was not done with his assent. He added that Ajit Pawar only had the support of ten to eleven NCP MLAs, adding that they’d be subject to anti-defection laws. 

While Pawar said the party had not yet decided what action to take against Ajit Pawar and denied that there was a family rift at play here, daughter Supriya Sule took to Whatsapp to declare her sense of betrayal and that the events of the day were both a party and family split. 

Although later in the day, PTI confirmed that Ajit Pawar had been sacked as the NCP legislature group leader. 

Meanwhile, at the press conference, two NCP MLAs explained that they’d attended that morning’s swearing-in ceremony without actually knowing what they were doing or why they’d been ordered to go to the Governor’s residence. Effectively saying they’d been duped by Ajit Pawar and had gone straight to Sharad Pawar once they realised what had happened.

It seemed unclear if the BJP-Ajit Pawar alliance would actually have the numbers to prove their claim to form a government in a floor test. 

Later in the day, the BJP held its own press conference, asserting that it had the “electoral and moral” mandate to form a government in Maharashtra, PTI reported. 

It dismissed public barbs about its history of accusing new ally Ajit Pawar of corruption, saying, “the given situation” required a stable government. 

As the parties continue to exchange insults via press conferences, NCP MLAs’ alliances are shifting between Sharad and Ajit Pawar rapidly, making it difficult to figure out which Pawar will eventually emerge with the numbers.