'Ajit's removal as NCP legislature unit head invalid'

BJP leader Ashish Shelar told reporters here that Ajit Pawar's replacement with Jayant Patil was done at the NCP's legislature wing. (Twitter photo/@ShelarAshish)

The BJP on Sunday objected to the removal of Ajit Pawar as leader of the NCP legislature party, saying it was "invalid".

Pawar was removed as the NCP's legislature unit leader on Saturday, hours after he joined hands with the BJP in a coup and took oath as deputy of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

However, raising an objection to it, BJP leader Ashish Shelar told reporters here that Ajit Pawar's replacement with Jayant Patil was done at the NCP's legislature wing meeting where all MLAs of the Sharad Pawar-led party were not present.

"The letter of support to the governor was given by Ajit Pawar as leader of the NCP's legislature party. Pawar's replacement with Jayant Patil is invalid," Shelar said.

"The petitionin the Supreme Court (filed by the Shiv Sena and others against the governor's decision of swearing in Fadnavis) doesn't challenge the October 30 appointment of Ajit Pawar as the legislature party leader," the BJP MLA said.

After the governor's decision to invite a new government to be sworn in, the change in leadership of the NCP legislature party will need to be verified by the governor, the former Mumbai BJP chief said.

In a stunning turn of events, Fadnavis on Saturday returned as chief minister propped up by Ajit Pawar, who was made his deputy, just hours after the new alliance of Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress reached a consensus that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be their chief ministerial candidate.

Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at a hush hush ceremony here, leading to lifting of the President's rule in the state.

Ajit Pawar's volte face created fissures in the NCP, whose chief Sharad Pawar distanced himself from his nephew's dramatic action, saying the decision to back Fadnavis was his personal choice and not that of the party.

On Saturday evening, the NCP removed Ajit Pawar as the party's legislature unit head, saying his move was not in line with the party's policies.

The Shiv Sena later approached the Supreme Court against the "arbitrary and malafide actions/decisions" of Governor Koshyari of swearing in Fadnavis.

The BJP and the Sena, which fought the last month's Assembly polls in an alliance, secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively.

The Sena, however, broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister's post.

The Congress and the NCP, both pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats respectively. 

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