NEW DELHI: Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday met Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar in Mumbai and had a word of advice for his former deputy – “do good work for the state and people.” After the meeting, which was dubbed a “courtesy call”, Uddhav said “I am confident that people of the state will get aid because he has the keys to the treasury.”
Uddhav’s meting with Ajit Pawar raised interest as it was the first time that the allies-turned-political rivals were together after the rebel NCP leader dumped the opposition MVA camp and joined the Eknath Shinde-led NDA government in Maharashtra.
Just a day before on Tuesday, the two leaders were on the opposite sides of the political divide representing their respective alliances in a show of strength.
Ajit Pawar, who had rebelled against his uncle Sharad Pawar and split the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), was a part of the BJP-led ruling NDA conclave in the national capital along with other regional parties. He was seen greeting the Prime Minister as the latter left the venue of the NDA meeting.
Uddhav Thackeray, on the other hand, was in Bengaluru along with Sharad Pawar, where the opposition alliance held their second meeting and got a new name ‘INDIA’. The Shiv Sena (UBT) leader will play a key role as a host for the third meeting of opposition alliance INDIA to be held in Mumbai.
The roles have reversed for the two leaders. Uddhav who was BJP’s trusted ally for years is now with the Congress and Ajit Pawar who teamed up with the grand old party in most of the elections is now a part of the saffron alliance.
Meanwhile, Ajit Pawar, after challenging the authority and hold of Sharad Pawar over the NCP, has met his uncle twice. The Ajit faction claimed that on both the occasions Sharad Pawar heard them but did not say anything. The junior Pawar has the backing of a large number of NCP MLAs and has claimed that he represents the original party and not Sharad Pawar.
The politics in Maharashtra is still in a state of churn. Two key players of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance have been weakened after their parties have split down the middle.
First, Uddhav Thackeray faced rebellion from his MLAs led by Eknath Shinde. Uddhav lost not just his government but also control over the Shiv Sena, which was founded by his father Late Balasaheb Thackeray.
Then came the second blow to the opposition camp and the target this time was Sharad Pawar, the architect of MVA. Ajit Pawar’s rebellion against his uncle has dealt a body blow to the opposition camp in Maharashtra.
Sharad Pawar has vowed to fight back and rebuild the NCP. His first battle will be to convince the Election Commission and fight for the symbol and control of the party he had founded in 1999.
For now, it is the BJP which holds all the aces – with both Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar in its camp, the saffron party will be calling the shots in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections.

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