NCP chief Sharad Pawar: No MLA will be disqualified

Updated: Nov 26, 2019, 08:16 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav, Chetna Sadadekar | Mumbai

NCP chief Sharad Pawar pacifies MLAs scared of disbarment from Assembly for not following former legislative party head Ajit Pawar's whip

Shive Sena MLAs outside Grand Hyatt on Monday. Pic/Anurag Ahire
Shive Sena MLAs outside Grand Hyatt on Monday. Pic/Anurag Ahire

While some NCP MLAs lodged in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Mumbai feared that they might be disqualified from their position in the State Assembly, party chief Sharad Pawar during the meeting of the 162 MLAs on Monday evening told them that there was no reason to worry. He said that he had a word with experts regarding it. He added that Ajit Pawar's orders would no longer be valid since he had been removed from the position of NCP group leader.

While interacting with the MLAs of all three parties — Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP — Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also hinted at the three parties fighting the election together in the near future. As the Santacruz hotel became the centre-stage of the political drama in Maharashtra, MLAs of all three political parties were brought before the media to show the BJP that the three parries had the numbers to form the government. Pawar, Thackeray, and Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat along with senior leaders of all the three parties did a show of strength before the media.

Banners reading "Aamhi 162" [We are 162] were put up at the venue along with those reading the Constitution of India. "Rumours are doing the rounds to create fear among the newly-elected MLAs saying that they might be disqualified but I want to tell you that I have already interacted with the constitutional experts in New Delhi and Maharashtra and nothing of this sort will happen. I take complete responsibility of this," said Pawar.

Pawar also said that on the floor of house, the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress will successfully prove majority and form a government that will work for the people. Pawar also took potshots at his nephew who joined hands with the BJP. He alleged that the BJP was attacking democratic institutions. "Maharashtra is not Goa and Maharashtra has seen such difficult situations several times. It has always come out of such difficult situations," said Pawar.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan thanked Congress president Gandhi for agreeing to be "a part of this alliance to keep BJP out of power." Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray too appeared confident about forming the government. "I am not saying that I will come again, I am saying that I have already arrived and am here to stay," he said, taking a dig at the election campaign of Devendra Fadnavis.

"We are not just going to be here for five years but will continue to stick together for years to come in the future. The alliance has started from Maharashtra and will be spread across to ensure that the power-hungry party is kept away from the government."

The MLAs who were simply made to sit in groups as party leaders addressed them, seemed slightly confused. "We had plans to do a photo-shoot where we were supposed to display our names and also a head-count was to be performed but the seniors felt that would not be appropriate and thus the plan was cancelled," one of them said. Towards the end of the event, the MLAs pledged to not leave the party and stay together with the alliance.

162
No. of MLAs present at Monday's gathering

Chaos outside Hyatt

After senior party leaders announced the event, the hotel staff at Hyatt went into a frenzy. They complained of problems caused to other guests owing to heavy media presence and a poorly-managed event. A guest who was made to wait for 20 minutes to enter the hotel, told mid-day, "I was asked to keep moving from one door to another by the security guards and there was so much crowd that we did not know how to enter."

It's carrom, TV and bonding for MLAs

WHILE the turmoil over government formation continues in the main frame, the MLAs, on the sidelines, seem to be making the most of the uncertainty at the respective hotels they have been put up at. On Monday, after a day of playing board games, watching TV and getting to know each other better, they sprung into action only after they were told to gather for the show of strength at Grand Hyatt. NCP and Sena chose to take separate hotels for security reasons. The Sena MLAs took time to settle into their rooms at the Lemon Tree. While all Sena leaders are put up in the hotel, they said that bonding between the rural and city MLAs had been happening and spending
time at dinners and lunches had become regular. An MLA not willing to be named, said, "The only way to kill time is to spend it with each other in the lobby or watch television or play carrom."

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