Mumbai: Did the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe against four top Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders or the family feud between Supriya Sule and Ajit Pawar help the BJP execute its dramatic plan to keep its pre-poll ally Shiv Sena away from the hot seat in Maharashtra?
A senior NCP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity, "For the last 10 days, when we were busy holding talks with the Shiv Sena and the Congress, we did not care for BJP's silence and its plan to form a government in the state."
He said the leaders of the three parties met in Mumbai on Friday and decided to forge an alliance in Maharashtra with the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) being accepted by all the three parties. The three parties were supposed to meet again on Saturday afternoon to finalise the alliance deal.
"But before our meeting could take place, we all were stunned as news came in that Devendra Fadnavis has been sworn-in as Chief Minister with Ajit Pawar as his deputy," the NCP leader said.
A Congress leader pointed out that during the peak of the Assembly polls in the state, Fadnavis had warned the NCP that some of its family members were in touch with them.
"And today that thing was proved, as Ajit Pawar switched his alliance to the BJP," he said.
The Congress leader said the power feud in the Pawar family started showing signs since the Lok Sabha elections as Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar differed on ticket distribution in the state.
He also said that the BJP leadership might have used senior NCP leader Praful Patel to convince Sharad Pawar to give him assurance of getting relaxation in the ED cases being registered against the NCP leaders.
The Congress leader gave another example, saying that after the ED registered a case against Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar in September, the senior Pawar had said that Maharashtra has never bowed before Delhi and announced that he would visit the ED office to join the investigation.
"However, Ajit Pawar was not seen anywhere when Sharad Pawar walked to the ED office. He also resigned from the Assembly as an MLA on the same day," he claimed.
Citing some examples of the Pawar family feud, the Congress leader said that Ajit Pawar's son Parth Pawar was first denied a ticket in the Lok Sabha elections. But after some time, he was fielded from the Maval Parliamentary constituency from where he lost by a huge margin.
On the other hand, Rohit Pawar, the grandson of Sharad Pawar, won in the Assembly elections from Karjat-Jamkhed.
The ED is probing Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam to the tune of Rs 25,000, while Praful Patel is being probed by the central investigating agency in the Air India profitable seat sharing deal and a property deal case linked to late Iqbal Mirchi, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts and a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim.
In the October 21 Assembly elections, the BJP won 105 out of 288 seats while its pre-poll ally Shiv Sena bagged 56 seats. The Congress and the NCP won 44 and 54 seats, respectively.
President's Rule was imposed in the state on November 12 after none of the parties were able to form a government in the state.