Will Political Defector Ajit Pawar Prove To Be A Strong Ally Of Mahayuti Alliance?

Mumbai: Mumbai: NCP President and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has a history of political defection. His infamous switch to align with the BJP in 2019, followed by a quick return to the NCP, displayed his ability to navigate political alliances swiftly. Further, in July 2023, Ajit Pawar led an exodus of NCP MLAs to support the BJP-Shiv Sena government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in Maharashtra, securing the allegiance of over 40 out of 53 NCP MLAs. This resulted in a major blow to the party.

But in the Mahayuti, Pawar has emereged as the force to reckon with as chief minister Eknath Shinde has been reduced to a silent specatator with BJP and NCP calling the shots. In the Lok Sabha elections 2024, the three party allliance is yet to seal the seat sharing despite multiple round of talks between top leadership in the past few weeks.

Progress In Seat Sharing Talks

Pawar, however, disclosed on Thursday that 80 per cent of the Mahayuti seat-sharing arrangement had been agreed upon, with the remaining details to be finalised in an upcoming meeting with BJP leadership. However, as per the current scenario, Ajit Pawar is seen having key role in the seat-sharing talks.

Speaking to the media in Supe, Pune district, Pawar stated that the BJP had already allocated tickets for 20 uncontested constituencies. However, disagreements over 9-10 seats were causing delays in finalising the allocation. For instance, CM Eknath Shinde favoured Milind Deora for Mumbai South, while the BJP preferred Rahul Narwekar. Similar disputes arose in Sambhajinagar, Raigad and Shirur.

NCP’s Share As Per Reports On Seat Sharing Talks

Reports earlier this week suggested that despite prolonged negotiations, the Mahayuti alliance, comprising the BJP, Shiv Sena led by Eknath Shinde and NCP led by Ajit Pawar, made progress in seat allocation discussions. The Mahayuti partners have reportedly settled on four seats for Ajit Pawar’s faction, although Pawar is advocating for a larger share.

As per the ongoing talks, Sharad Pawar’s nephew, the leader of the ‘real’ NCP, is expected to field candidates in Baramati, Raigad, Shirur and Parbhani. Meanwhile, the BJP plans to contest 31 seats, with the Shiv Sena aiming for 13. However, recent updates suggest that Ajit Pawar’s NCP might contend for six seats, potentially including Satara and another constituency.

Ajit Pawar’s Importance In Seat Sharing Talks

It is seen that even though the NCP is compromising with BJP and other alliance partners, then too they are firm on the seats they want to fight on. On the other hand, the BJP is also seen making efforts to ensure that Ajit Pawar and his party is not disappointed with the allotment of seats. Interestingly, the real NCP faction has currently support of 41 MLAs from Maharashtra, 7 MLAs from Nagaland and 2 MPs in Indian Parliament. However, Pawar and his company is reportedly seen as a stronger ally than the Shinde-led Shiv Sena in the Mahayuti alliance, despite his reputation of political defection.

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