Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has for the first time on Thursday accepted he met Devendra Fadnavis and discussed government formation in 2019, but that he changed his stance and “bowled a googly” a few days before the controversial oath-taking ceremony on November 23, 2019.
That ceremony only exposed the BJP’s desperation he added.
Pawar’s remarks came a day after Fadnavis claimed that the idea of an alliance in 2019 began with discussions with NCP chief who played “double game”.
With the Shiv Sena walking out of its alliance with the BJP after the elections, and the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray trying to cobble together an alliance with others, Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar of the NCP took oath as chief minister and deputy chief minister at 8 am on November 23, 2019.
Unable to get other NCP leaders to rally behind him, Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar’s nephew, returned to the fold three days later.
“The entire episode was to expose them (State BJP leaders) on how desperate they are for power,” Pawar said while speaking to reporters in Pune.
“Fadnavis has rightly said they met me and various issues were discussed. He said in his interview yesterday that I changed my stand within two days after that meeting. The question is why did then Fadnavis take oath after two days and that too early in the morning keeping everyone in dark?” Pawar asked.
“I don’t know if it was a political game or not but let me tell you that my father-in-law Sadu Shinde was a very good googly bowler. At the same time, I have served as a President of International Cricket Council. So I know how to bowl a googly even if I have not played cricket myself.” A googly is a ball that turns in one direction while it is expected to turn in the other.
In the interview Fadnavis claimed that BJP leaders met with Sharad Pawar and it was decided that the BJP and NCP will form the government in Maharashtra. “We decided that Ajit Pawar and I will take the alliance forward and we made preparations for that. But at one point, Pawar separated during the preparations. This happened three or four days before we took the oath,” Fadnavis had said.
Reacting to Pawar’s remarks, Fadnavis said on Thursday that “ Pawar has spoken the truth . However, if Pawar feels it was his googly, it has only bowled his nephew, Ajit Pawar.”
Following that ill-fated oath-taking, an alliance of the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena joined formed Maha Vikas Aghadi and formed government in Maharashtra with Uddhav Thackrey as the Chief Minister. That government fell in mid-2022 with the majority of the Sena’s MLAs rallying behind Eknath Shinde who formed a government with the BJP.
To a question if his move embarrassed nephew Ajit Pawar, the NCP chief replied saying, “It’s your opinion. The fact is, Fanavis was bowled by this googly.”