9 MLAs who were by Ajit's side now with Sharad Pawar

Ajit Pawar and Sharad Pawar. (PTI Photo)

At least nine NCP MLAs who attended swearing-in of Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister of Maharashtra returned to the party fold and expressed solidarity with party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday evening.

These MLAs were present when BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis and NCP's Ajit Pawar were sworn in as chief minister and deputy chief minister at Raj Bhavan.

Udgir MLA Sanjay Bansode was the latest legislator to turn up at the Y B Chavan Centre here where party MLAs are attending a meeting convened by Sharad Pawar.

Bansode appeared at the venue in a dramatic manner, accompanied by NCP leader Shashikant Shinde, and Shiv Sena's Eknath Shinde and Milind Narvekar.

"I did not go anywhere. I am with Pawar Saheb only," Bansode told reporters.

Ajit, Sharad Pawar's nephew, joined hands with the BJP along with some legislators and took oath as deputy CM in the morning, stating that he was taking the step to provide the state a stable government.

Dilip Bankar and Manikrao Kokate, MLAs from Nashik who were with Ajit at Raj Bhavan, tweeted separately later that they were kept in the dark about the oath-taking ceremony.

Both the MLAs said they were with the NCP and expressed solidarity with the party chief.

Earlier MLAs Rajendra Shingne (who represents Buldhana seat), Sandeep Kshirsagar (Beed), Sunil Shelke (Maval), Sunil Bhusara (Vikramgad), Narhari Zirwal (Dindori) and Sunil Tingre (Wadgaon-Sheri) returned to the NCP fold, having attended the oath-taking ceremony.

Senior leader and Parli MLA Dhananjay Munde, who was also said to have attended the function at Raj Bhavan, turned up at the NCP meeting in the evening. He did not speak to the media.

"I have not gone against the party's position. I reached Raj Bhavan after Ajit Pawar asked me. I Followed order as he is the legislature party leader," tweeted Kokate, Sinnar MLA.

"I had no clue what was going to happen there. I am with the party. I will never change the decision once taken," he added, tagging Sharad Pawar and NCP MP Supriya Sule.

Bankar, MLA from Niphad, seconded Kokate in a tweet and said he had faith in Sharad Pawar's leadership.

He too had reached Raj Bhavan after being asked to do so by Ajit Pawar and was "clueless" about what was in store there, he claimed.

Earlier in the afternoon, at a press conference addressed by Sharad Pawar, Shingne said, "When I reached Raj Bhavan, I found 8 to 10 MLAs already there. None of us realised why we were brought there. After the swearing-in, we went to meet (Sharad) Pawar saheb," he said.

"All this happened because of some misunderstanding since Ajit Pawar had called us," he said.

Sharad Pawar said that Ajit, by virtue of being the NCP legislature party leader, possessed the list of all the 54 party MLAs with names, signatures and constituencies for internal party use.

"I presume he has submitted that list as a letter of support to the Governor. If this is true, the governor has been misled," he said.

Pawar also said the MLAs who have defected stand to lose the membership of the Assembly, and when byelections are held, the Congress-NCP-Sena alliance will ensure that they are defeated.

In the 288-member Assembly, the BJP has 105 MLAs, the Shiv Sena 56, the NCP 54 and the Congress 44. The majority mark is 145.

Saturday's developments sabotaged the efforts of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress to form a government in the state.

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