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BJP wanted Ajit Pawar in jail; today he is the cynosure of saffron eyes

Radheshyam Jadhav November 24 | Updated on November 24, 2019

Newly-sworn in Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis shakes hands with his Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar (file photo)   -  PTI

What Devendra said before the polls: Ajit Pawar will have no space in the BJP. We will complete the irrigation scam probe and all involved will face action

Just before the State Assembly polls, the BJP was eager to see Ajit Pawar in jail in connection with the alleged ₹70,000 crore irrigation scam. This morning, BJP leaders and workers were shouting slogans at the party’s Mumbai headquarters “Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar tum age badho — hum tumhare saath hai” (lead on, Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar; we are with you).

The rebel Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, who is Sharad Pawar’s nephew, took oath as deputy to CM Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday, claiming the support of all NCP MLAs. He was once the main target of the BJP. In fact, before coming to power in 2014, Devendra Fadnavis gained popularity across the State by launching a scathing attack on Ajit Pawar, whose political life has been mired in corruption allegations since 2009.

The irrigation scam — one of the biggest scams in the State — was unearthed after the Economic Survey observed that the irrigation potential of the State had increased by only 0.1 per cent even though ₹70,000 crore had been spent on various projects over a decade. Contracts for the projects were allegedly given to select people, in violation of rules. Ajit Pawar headed the Water Resource Ministry for years and was also deputy CM in the Congress-NCP government.

Ajit’s name was also involved in clearing controversial projects, and in September 2019, the Enforcement Directorate filed a case against him in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank loan fraud. BJP leaders are mum on their allegations against Ajit. Instead they are praising him for helping the BJP provide a ‘stable government’ in the State.

What Fadnavis said about Pawar before the polls

Speaking to a Marathi news channel in an interview, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was asked if the BJP would entertain Ajit Pawar to achieve its political motives. Fadnavis had then said: “Remember one thing. At any cost Ajit Pawar will have no space in the BJP. We will complete the irrigation scam probe and all involved will face action.”

He went on to add: “Who has fought NCP fiercely? Only we have. No other party battled against the NCP. It is impossible to form an alliance with the NCP. Its no, no and no. At any cost we will never have an alliance with the NCP. We will stay without power (but not join hands with the NCP). Once someone asked me about a (BJP and NCP) marriage. I told them, I will remain unmarried (forever) but will not go with NCP”.

Published on November 24, 2019

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