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Shah explains BJP’s faith in Ajit Pawar, says no case dropped

Not the media alone, BJP workers and supporters had started questioning the decision to go with Ajit Pawar; Amit Shah owed this explanation

After senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse questioned the party’s strategy in taking the support of Ajit Pawar, party president Amit Shah said that the NCP leader had to be trusted as the leader of the legislative party. Earlier, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis remained silent when asked for an answer.

In Maharashtra, while the coalition of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress is preparing to form a government under Uddhav Thackeray, the viability of the coup of sorts the BJP had pulled off last Saturday continues to beg the question why Fadnavis should have gone with a member of the previous INC-NCP government who has had a dubious record of integrity.

When Fadnavis was questioned about Ajit Pawar for the second consecutive day, he dodged. He said he would give the right answer at the right time. However, senior party leader Khadse clearly stated that the BJP should not have gone with Ajit. He said, “My personal opinion is that BJP should not take the support of Ajit Pawar. He is accused in the irrigation scam and many other cases are registered against him. We should not have aligned with him.”

Amit Shah on Wednesday answered a question from a news channel on seeking support from Ajit Pawar. He said, “Ajit Pawar was elected the leader of the NCP legislative party. He was authorised to pledge his party’s support to anybody. The governor also talked to them about forming the government. When the NCP expressed its inability to form the government for the first time, the letter was signed also by Ajit Pawar. Now the letter of support that came to us was signed by Ajit Pawar, too.”

On the question of withdrawing nine cases of irrigation scam, Shah said no case related to Ajit Pawar had been withdrawn.

The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had on 25 November clarified that none of the nine irrigation scam-related cases was linked to deputy CM Ajit Pawar. The ACB had issued this clarification after opposition Congress claimed Ajit Pawar had been “exonerated” due to his support to the BJP in forming a government.

The BJP president said, “We went to the polls. We formed an alliance with the Shiv Sena. Both parties got votes of each other. Our alliance got a majority. CM Devendra ji got this mandate. In many rallies, we had said that Devendra ji would be the chief minister. Nobody protested.”

Shah continued, “I want to make it clear that there was no assurance about the post of chief minister for the first two-and-a-half years. In every rally, we referred to Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister. Shiv Sena leaders were present on the stage, but no one said anything. There is no MLA of Shiv Sena, who has not asked for votes by putting up posters of Narendra Modi. Even Aditya Thackeray did that.”

Shah: Shiv Sena dishonoured the mandate

The BJP president said it was the Shiv Sena that dishonoured the mandate. They went against their stated ideology and pre-election alliance. They have put ideology on hold. We are being accused of horse-trading but we did not lock any MLA in a hotel.”

“It is wrong to form a rag-tag government and then call it BJP’s defeat. The public understands this. What is the combination of the ideology of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress? They are accusing us of horse-trading, but they bought out entire stables by giving the Sena the post of chief minister. Doesn’t exploiting the greed for a post amount to horse-trading?”

The BJP president accused Shiv Sena of compromising with ideology. He said, “Our stand on all issues is clear. While the Shiv Sena chief was scheduled to visit Ayodhya on the 23rd after the election, he dropped his plan for the sake of becoming the chief minister.”