The two groups of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are set to hold their respective meetings of supporters, amid differing claims over the number of supporting MLAs, on Wednesday.
Sharad Pawar, the NCP chief, and Ajit Pawar, his nephew and Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister have called its supporters to gather in Mumbai where all eyes are on the attendance of MLAs in those meetings.
Both groups of the NCP have issued a whip to its MLAs to attend the respective meetings. Jitendra Awhad on behalf of Sharad Pawar and minister Anil Patil on behalf of Ajit Pawar on Tuesday evening issued the whips.
Ajit camp’s leader Praful Patel on Tuesday claimed that more than 40 MLAs are with them.
Patel said, “We have already said that we have the support of more than 40 MLAs. We have joined the state government as a party and not as a separate group. We are very clear on the fact that the majority of the MLAs are with us.”
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The NCP has 53 MLAs in the legislative assembly. To avoid disqualification for breaking the party whip, the Ajit group needs the support of two-thirds of MLAs which is 36.
Two of the MLAs have already said that they are now with Sharad Pawar.
Kiran Lahamate, the other MLA, said on Tuesday that he signed the letter thinking the swearing-in ceremony had the silent blessings of the NCP president.
He said, “But after realizing that it was not the case, I left the Raj Bhavan.”
He said that he will announce his final decision after interacting with the people of the constituency.
“All MLAs except those nine are of the NCP. They are not from any other group. They should not be threatened, should not be given false promises, and should not be pressured,” Jayant Patil said.
The NCP state chief said that all these MLAs are ready to work under Sharad Pawar.
Both the groups are set to make a show of strength on Wednesday with the NCP president’s meeting to be held at the Y B Chavan center at Nariman Point while Ajit’s group has announced the meeting at Bandra.
“This has made many from the Ajit Pawar camp regret their decision and we are confident that they will return. Nobody wants to mess with Sharad Pawar as everybody knows his strength when it comes to elections,” said Jitendra Awhad, who has been appointed as the chief whip in the legislative assembly by the NCP.
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