Following a significant defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Ajit Pawar finds itself in a difficult position. With only one seat in the Lok Sabha, the BJP’s offer of a Minister of State (MoS) position to Pawar’s party was met with discontent, leading the NCP to decide against joining the Narendra Modi cabinet.

Interestingly, the internal divisions within the NCP became apparent as Sunil Tatkare, the party’s sole Lok Sabha MP, believed that the party should accept the MoS offer. Sources within the NCP revealed that Tatkare favoured the BJP’s offer and hoped to be nominated. However, Ajit Pawar firmly believed that the party should not settle for an MoS post and preferred that Patel, rather than Tatkare, be included in the ministry.

Despite the disagreement, Patel clarified that there was no dispute between the NCP and the BJP. Speaking to reporters in Delhi, he stated, “The BJP and NCP are working hand-in-hand. The only issue is a minor misunderstanding. Last night, we received information that our party would get an MoS independent charge, similar to what was offered to other alliance partners. The only difference is that, having been a cabinet minister in the union government before, I see accepting an MoS independent charge as a demotion. We have informed the BJP leadership, and they assured us that remedial measures will be taken. This does not indicate a major problem.”

Ajit Pawar reiterated that his party had initially requested a cabinet post, to which the BJP had agreed. “But yesterday we were informed that we would get an MoS independent charge. We told them we will wait, but we want a cabinet position,” he said.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis stated that the BJP has set criteria for the number of cabinet posts, but assured that the NCP’s demand would be considered during the cabinet expansion.

NCP (Sharad Pawar) leader Rohit Pawar said that the BJP would now dump Ajit Pawar as with the Lok Sabha polls, his utility is over.  

BJP Plan

In the wake of a major debacle in the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has strategically selected ministers from Maharashtra to strengthen its position ahead of the upcoming assembly elections.

Nitin Gadkari, who has secured his third consecutive win in the Nagpur seat, remains a key figure in the Vidarbha region. Despite the BJP’s poor performance in the general elections there, Gadkari’s influence is unwavering. Piyush Goyal, newly elected from the Mumbai North constituency, has strong connections to PM Modi and Amit Shah. His inclusion is seen as a strategic move to strengthen ties with Mumbai’s and Maharashtra’s business communities, leveraging his extensive experience and established rapport with industry leaders.

Raksha Khadse, who has secured her third consecutive term from Raver, represents the influential Leva Patil community in North Maharashtra. As the daughter-in-law of senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, her presence is expected to solidify the party’s appeal in the region. Ramdas Athawale, leader of the Republican Party of India (RPI) and former Minister of State for Social Justice, remains a prominent Dalit figure supporting the BJP.

Murlidhar Mohol, a first-time winner from Pune, and Shiv Sena MP Prataprao Jadhav, a veteran from the Maratha community in Vidarbha, are crucial to addressing the Maratha community’s grievances, particularly regarding reservations. Their inclusion aims to mitigate discontent and unify support within the community.