‘Heated talks with Cong forced Ajit towards BJP’

NEW DELHI: Lifting the veil on Ajit Pawar’s surprise move to ally with BJP to form a 72-hour government in Maharashtra, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has said protracted and heated negotiations with Congress irritated his nephew and led him to assert that the government could not be run when talks with Congress were taking so long and Shiv Sena had not even joined the deliberations.
In an interview to a television channel, Pawar said though he was aware of Ajit Pawar being in conversation with Devendra Fadnavis, he had not believed Pawar junior would go so far as to form a government with BJP.
Referring to the heated discussions over ministerial portfolios with Congress leaders on November 22, the night before Fadnavis’ was sworn in an early morning ceremony, Pawar said, “Ajit was very, very unhappy at that heated conversation. Congress was demanding extra portfolios. I walked out. Ajit also walked out and told my colleagues I don’t know how we will be able to work the next day. That night he had a meeting with Devendra Fadnavis.”
The NCP chief, however, dismissed speculation that Ajit Pawar’s decision to form the government with BJP had his blessings. He also said “working with Sena is easier than working with BJP”, adding that he believed Sena would not bring “Hindutva” into governance.
The NCP chief also indicated Ajit Pawar’s transgression was unlikely to come in the way of his being appointed deputy CM in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government. “I can’t say (whether he will be deputy chief minister). It has to be discussed with colleagues. But sizeable members of the party have full respect for him, even if they are unhappy about him going to BJP,” Pawar said.

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