Opposition's barbs amid BJP vs Ajit Pawar's NCP after Nawab Malik joins Maharashtra assembly session

opposition's barbs amid bjp vs ajit pawar's ncp after nawab malik joins maharashtra assembly session

Nagpur: NCP MLA Nawab Malik during the first day of the Winter session of Maharashtra Assembly at Vidhan Bhawan.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jayant Patil on Thursday took a dig at Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who wrote a letter to his cabinet colleague and NCP leader Ajit Pawar opposing Nawab Malik’s induction into the ruling alliance in the state, saying the letter was an attempt to provide an “explanation” to the people of Maharashtra.

Taking a jibe at Fadnavis, Patil said it seems that one deputy CM does not have the phone number of the other as such issues have to be discussed in private.

“Today, he (Nawab Malik) came to Vidhan Sabha and was sitting on the ruling party’s side. So, the BJP wrote this letter as a way of offering an explanation to the people (for the split in the NCP). Instead of sending a letter to Ajit Pawar, he (Fadnavis) could have just called and informed him. I think this letter was the government’s way of giving an explanation (amid Malik’s induction to the ruling alliance) to the people of Maharashtra,” Patil said.

NCP (Ajit Pawar faction) MLC Amol Mitkari also said Fadnavis should have conveyed his views in private and not put it out in public domain.

“There was no need for such a letter and that whatever has to be conveyed could have been done in person. The letter is getting viral now. Now that they have already written a letter regarding Nawab Malik, (deputy CM) Ajit Pawar will respond to it appropriately,” he asserted.

Other opposition leaders also targeted the BJP given its stance on Malik in the past, saying that it had once dubbed Malik a “traitor”. However, Malik has not yet announced if he will join the Ajit Pawar faction or the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.

NCP working president Supriya Sule dubbed the saffron party as ‘Bhrashta Jumla Party’ over the claims. “I read that letter and the way Nawab Malik has been insulted is wrong. The BJP has turned into ‘Bhrashta Jumla Party’ and they have trapped the Ajit Pawar group,” she said.

Congress leader Maharashtra LoP, Vijay Wadettiwar has claimed that Malik has joined the ruling alliance led by state chief minister Eknath Shinde. He said, “I feel that Nawab Malik is with the ‘Mahayuti’ (grand alliance).”

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and leader of opposition in the upper house Ambadas Danve, asked how Malik, once branded as a terrorist and traitor by the BJP, was rubbing shoulders with the MLAs of the ruling alliance.

“There is a member sitting in the lower house. The CM and Deputy CM have been saying they will never rub shoulders with someone who is a traitor. The person who was branded as a traitor could be seen rubbing shoulders with the ruling party legislators, sitting on the treasury benches. We want to understand the government’s stand,’ he said.

In the letter addressed to Ajit Pawar, Fadnavis said Malik has the right to attend the assembly as an MLA and added that “we (the BJP) do not harbour any personal animosity or grudge” against him.

“Given that he is an accused (in a money laundering case), we are of the opinion that it would not be proper to induct him into the ruling alliance. Power comes and goes but the country is paramount,” Fadnavis said.

“We agree that it is your prerogative (to decide) who should be inducted in your party. But every constituent (in the Maha Yuti) has to think as to whether it would harm the alliance,” Fadnavis said, adding, “Hence, we are opposed to this”.

Meanwhile, Ajit Pawar has said Malik would make his own decisions. “The Assembly Speaker has the right to decide where anyone should sit in the House….Nawab Malik has come to the House, I called him in the morning,” Pawar said.

Fadnavis’ letter came after Nawab Malik, who is out on bail on medical grounds, attended the winter session of the Maharashtra assembly and sat on the treasury benches with other legislators from the Ajit Pawar-led faction of NCP. Malik, the then cabinet minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in 2022 in a money laundering case linked to underworld Dawood Ibrahim.

(With inputs from agencies)

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