As many as 27 out of the 53 MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) did not attend the Maharashtra legislature's monsoon session on the first day on Monday.
One NCP MLA, Nawab Malik, is currently under judicial custody in connection with a money laundering case.
Out of the 24 NCP MLAs who attended the session, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, cabinet ministers Chhagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Aditi Tatkare, Sanjay Bansode, Dhananjay Munde, Anil Patil and Dharmarao Atram were seated on the ruling side.
The other MLAs who extended their support to Ajit Pawar and were present in the House were Babanrao Shinde, Indranil Naik, Prakash Solankhe, Kiran Lahamate, Sunil Shelke and Saroj Ahire.
NCP state president Jayant Patil (from Sharad Pawar camp), legislators Balasaheb Patil, Prajakt Tanpure, Sunil Bhusara, Mansing Pawar, Suman Patil, Rohit Pawar, Rajesh Tope, Ashok Pawar and Anil Deshmukh were seated on the Opposition side.
Notably, chief whip of the NCP (Sharad Pawar camp) Jitendra Awhad on Sunday wrote a letter to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar seeking a separate seating arrangement for members of the Ajit Pawar camp and the rest of the party MLAs for the session.
In the letter, Awhad said except for the nine MLAs- including Ajit Pawar- who have joined the government, the NCP is part of the Opposition.
Except for the nine MLAs who were sworn in, the seating arrangement for others should be made separately. The NCP is in the Opposition and we want to sit in the Opposition, Awhad stated.
Narwekar recently said there was no clear distinction between who is in power and who is not in the case of the NCP.
"There will be a lot of deliberations and arguments over how to decide who represents the actual NCP, he had said.
On July 2, Ajit Pawar led a split in the NCP when he joined the Eknath Shinde-BJP government as the deputy CM along with eight other NCP MLAs as cabinet ministers.