MUMBAI, Nov 23 - BJP�s Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday returned as Maharashtra Chief Minister, propped by NCP�s Ajit Pawar, who took oath as Deputy Chief Minister, even as NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the decision to side with Fadnavis was his nephew�s personal choice and not that of the party.
Not many had an inkling of the early morning swearing-in ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan, which some called a �clandestine� affair, a far cry from Fadnavis�s first such ceremony in 2014 in the packed Wankhede Stadium in the presence of thousands of supporters.
The oath taking was held soon after the President�s Rule, imposed on November 12, was revoked. President Ram Nath Kovind signed the proclamation for revocation of the Central rule and a Gazette notification to this effect was issued at 5:47 am.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP have moved the Supreme Court, seeking a floor test within 24 hours to avoid further horse-trading and �illegal manoeuvres� in Maharashtra.
The swearing-in ceremony came as a political shocker, hours after Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray emerged as the consensus candidate of the Sena-NCP-Congress combine for the top post.
Sharad Pawar said it was his nephew Ajit Pawar�s own decision, and not that of the party, to support the BJP to form the government.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut accused Ajit Pawar of stabbing people of Maharashtra in the back by deciding to join hands with the BJP.
Sharad Pawar on Friday night said the new government would be led by Uddhav Thackeray. The three parties had even prepared a draft common minimum programme to guide the actions of the new government.
After the oath-taking ceremony, Sharad Pawar tweeted: �Ajit Pawar�s decision to support the BJP to form the government is his personal decision and not that of the NCP. We place on record that we do not support or endorse his decision.�
The BJP and the Sena, which fought the assembly polls in an alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively in the 288-member House. The Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister�s post. The Congress and the NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats respectively.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who struck up an alliance on Saturday morning with the BJP to become Maharashtra�s Deputy Chief Minister, is said to have support of 10-11 party MLAs, out of whom nine were flown to Delhi on a chartered flight.
On the other hand, stunned by Ajit Pawar�s move to help the BJP form a government in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has brought its 55 MLAs to a hotel in Navi Mumbai to avoid poaching, while the Congress took all its legislators to Bhopal.
The NCP later on Saturday removed Ajit Pawar as its legislature party leader after he joined hands with the BJP to form government and took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister. He was replaced by the party�s state unit president Jayant Patil.
�The decision to sack Ajit Pawar was taken at the meeting of the party�s MLAs here,� party sources said. NCP chief Sharad Pawar was present at the meeting. � Agencies