Pune: Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar and some others in the party had forewarned then-Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray about a possible rebellion in his outfit Shiv Sena, but the latter was confident his MLAs will not take any extreme step, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar has said. A section of MLAs of the undivided Shiv Sena, led by then-Cabinet minister Eknath Shinde, had rebelled against Thackeray’s leadership in June last year, leading to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government. The rebel MLAs then teamed up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a government under Shinde’s leadership. Ajit Pawar, asked by Lokmat Editor Sanjay Awate on Friday during an interview if those in the MVA government had any inkling about a rebellion brewing in the Shiv Sena, said they had clues about such a possibility much in advance and Thackeray was informed about it.
“Pawar saheb (Sharad Pawar) himself had informed Thackeray. Pawar saheb had even phoned Thackeray and told him about it (possible rebellion in Shiv Sena). However, Uddhavji had said he trusts his MLAs and was confident they will not take such an extreme step,” said the NCP leader. Ajit Pawar, whose party was a constituent of the Shiv Sena-led MVA along with the Congress, served as deputy chief minister in the Thackeray cabinet.
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The former deputy CM said when the first group of 15 to 16 rebel Sena MLAs went with Shinde, there was an urgent need to keep the remaining flock together. But no such urgency was shown and MLAs were allowed to go wherever they wanted, said Ajit Pawar. In the end, 40 of the 55 Shiv Sena MLAs joined the Shinde camp.
“There was an attempt to break the trust of (Sena) MLAs. We can say some people remained unattentive,” he said without elaborating. Ajit Pawar wondered why top MVA leaders allowed things to go out of control. Asked when he got to know that trouble was brewing in the Thackeray-led party, the NCP leader he heard murmurs six months before the actual rebellion in June 2022.
“I had warned Uddhavji about it. Uddhavji said he had also heard the same and told me he would speak to Eknath Shinde. He (Thackeray) had said it was an internal party issue and that he would resolve it,” Ajit Pawar claimed.