Mumbai: Close on the heels of Prithviraj Chavan being anointed as the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Wednesday decided to replace Chhagan Bhujbal with Ajit Pawar as the Deputy Chief Minister of the state.
The decision was taken by the party leadership after a close door meeting here amid reports that Bhujbal is not happy about his unceremonious exit. Though sources in the party revealed that Bhujbal himself proposed Pawar`s name.
There were indications since morning that Bhujbal would be dropped but he had been putting up a brave face and had claimed that he will continue to remain the Deputy CM.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit is a very seasoned leader and has held many important portfolios in the state cabinet and currently holds the energy ministry.
He is said to be the de facto leader of the party in the state and enjoys the support of most party MLAs, something that came handy today in his being given preference over the powerful OBC leader.
Senior NCP leader Praful Patel, state party chief
Madhukar Pichad attended the meeting.
As per a media report, it was decided internally in the party, after the 2009 Assembly election win, that Bhujbal would be the Deputy CM for a period of two years and then hand over the baton to Ajit Pawar.
Ajit had at that time had led an open rebellion against the party but later accepted the party decision. And now, sensing that it would not be possible to bring about a change any time soon if today’s momentum favouring change is missed, he along with supporters pressed for it.
As per reports, close to 50 MLAs out of party 62 MLAs were in favour of the change, tilting the balance in his favour.
"An overwhelming number of NCP MLAs voiced their
support for senior state minister and Pawar`s nephew Ajit
Pawar, to succeed Chhagan Bhujbal as the deputy chief
minister," a party leader said.
"Naturally, Bhujbal is sulking and efforts are
underway to placate him," he said.
The meeting was held in the backdrop of Ashok Chavan`s
resignation as Chief Minister yesterday in the wake of the
Adarsh housing scam.