Senior NCP legislator and former minister Nawab Malik has become the bone stuck in the throats of deputy chief ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar.
A trap that was set by Shiv Sena (UBT) for Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, ended up targeting Ajit Pawar as Fadnavis cleverly ducked it, pushed the ball in Ajit Pawar's court.
On the first day of the Winter Session of state legislature in Nagpur, Nawab Malik attended the session and was seen occupying the seats for ruling alliance, thus indicating that he had decided to be part of Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP.
Ambadas Danve, leader of opposition in the state legislative council, targeted Fadnavis over Malik's seating preference by asking him how come Fadnavis was willing to accept Nawab Malik as part of ‘Mahayuti’ (saffron grand alliance) when he himself had accused Malik of anti national activities and helping fugitive gangster-terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.
Fadnavis retorted that the question should be asked to former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray as to why he kept Malik in his cabinet despite the fact that Malik had been arrested by ED and was facing a probe for serious allegations.
While Fadnavis had managed to duck Danve's bouncer in the legislature, the presence of Malik among the ruling benches led to a lot of criticism of the BJP and Fadnavis on the social media.
Fadnavis then wrote a letter to deputy CM Ajit Pawar stating that Malik should not be part of the saffron grand alliance till he is facing the probe. "We have no personal enemity or grudge against Malik. But given the nature of charges against him, we are of the opinion that it would be proper not to include him in the grand alliance," wrote Fadnavis in his letter, thus pushing the ball in Ajit Pawar's court.
The NCP faction led by Ajit Pawar has so far taken a cautious stand stating Malik was granted bail on health reasons and the political developments (NCP split) that took place in Maharashtra from June onwards were not discussed with him by NCP leadership. So when Malik came to state legislature to attend the Session he met up with old party colleagues and sat with them.
When journalists tried to grill Ajit Pawar over Nawab Malik issue he was visibly irked. “I will decide what to do with the letter after discussing the issue with Nawab Malik. You don't have to be bothered about it as I will not be discussing it with you,” Ajit snapped at journalists.
It has emerged that not just the BJP but even Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena is not comfortable with Nawab Malik joining the ruling saffron alliance. This has caused fresh trouble for the ruling alliance as the episode has once again showed that it is Fadnavis who is calling the shots in the government. What remains to be seen is whether Ajit pawar bows to Fadnavis' wishes or whether he takes a stand which is suitable to his party's interests.