In a recent interview at the India Today Conclave, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hinted at the possibility of Ajit Pawar serving as Chief Minister of Maharashtra for a full five-year term. However, Fadnavis remained vague about the timing of this transition, stating that it would occur “at an appropriate time.”
Addressing speculations surrounding Ajit Pawar’s potential elevation to Chief Minister, Fadnavis responded in a playful manner to an interviewer’s question. The interviewer had mentioned Ajit Pawar’s claim that he could “change everything in just six months.” Fadnavis, adopting a similar tone, remarked, “Nothing happens in just six months. Hence, whenever the appropriate time comes, we shall have him as Chief Minister for the complete five years.”
Fadnavis also sought to dispel rumors of an imminent change in leadership within the state, emphasizing that Eknath Shinde is currently the Chief Minister, and there is no reason to anticipate his removal. He stated firmly that there would be no leadership change in Maharashtra, neither before the Lok Sabha elections nor ahead of the Assembly polls.
Addressing another pertinent issue, Fadnavis expressed confidence in the stability of the Shinde-led group and ruled out any trouble regarding the disqualification of MLAs. Drawing on his legal expertise, he opined that the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case is a clear indication that the Shiv Sena (UBT) has encountered difficulties.
Furthermore, Fadnavis shed light on the timeline of his attempt to form a short-lived government with the NCP in 2019. He revealed that President’s Rule was imposed in Maharashtra that year with the consent of NCP President Sharad Pawar. Fadnavis recounted discussions held after the 2019 assembly elections, where they had finalized portfolio distribution and responsibilities of guardian ministers. However, he claimed that Pawar eventually backed out of the arrangement.
According to Fadnavis, the decision to impose President’s Rule was made with Pawar’s concurrence. He explained that the governor had approached every political party to inquire about their interest in forming the government, and the NCP initially refused. Fadnavis stated that corrections to the NCP’s letter were suggested by Pawar himself before it was submitted.
In response, the NCP promptly refuted Fadnavis’ claims about Sharad Pawar’s role in the imposition of President’s Rule in Maharashtra. Chief Spokesperson of the NCP, Mahesh Tapase, termed these claims as “entirely baseless” and lacking any factual foundation. Tapase emphasized that the decision to impose President’s Rule was taken by the Central Government and was not influenced by Pawar, reiterating the NCP’s commitment to democratic principles and the will of the people.