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Maharashtra Cabinet Expansion: Ajit Pawar, Praful Patel In Delhi To Meet Amit Shah

The NCP leaders have dismissed suggestions about a rift in the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena-NCP alliance in Maharashtra over the allocation of portfolios.

Maharashtra Cabinet Expansion: Ajit Pawar, Praful Patel In Delhi To Meet Amit Shah

New Delhi: Amid a standoff over the allocation of portfolios in Maharashtra, senior NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel arrived in the national capital on Wednesday evening for a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and top BJP leaders. Talking to reporters, Patel, the working president of the Nationalist Congress Party, dismissed suggestions about a rift in the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena-NCP alliance in Maharashtra and asserted that the issue about the allocation of portfolios has been sorted out and will be allocated in a day or two.

In a surprise development on July 2, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP split as his nephew Ajit Pawar and almost three dozen MLAs joined the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance. Ajit Pawar and eight other NCP leaders were sworn in as ministers.

"Do not read too much into our meetings here. It is just a courtesy call to senior BJP leaders. Ajit dada and myself have not had a formal meeting with the top BJP leadership. We will be meeting Home Minister Amit Shah and other BJP leaders here," Patel said.

Patel said he and Ajit Pawar will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 18 when a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents has been convened by the BJP.

He asserted that the issue of allocation of portfolios was sorted out during two late-night meetings between Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, and himself on Monday and Tuesday."The allocation of portfolios will happen in a day or two," Patel said.

Patel said the NCP has not sought any share in the Union Council of Ministers. "We have not made any demand for a central ministry," Patel said when asked whether the NCP would join the Union government.

Asked about the delay in the allocation of portfolios in Maharashtra, Patel said after joining the government the NCP had not broached the topic with its alliance partners for four to five days. "We took up the issue only a couple of days back. We have had three meetings," he said referring to the late-night meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

Patel said there would be some issues in the allocation of portfolios as the same had been distributed by the BJP and Shiv Sena when they formed the government last year. "Now each of them will have to give up some portfolios to accommodate us," he said. Patel parried questions on the prized finance portfolio that Ajit Pawar is learnt to be keen on having. "The picture will be clear in a day or two," he said.

Besides Patel and Ajit Pawar, senior NCP leader Hasan Mushrif is also in the national capital. However, Patel said Mushrif is here for some personal work and will not join him and Ajit Pawar at the meeting with the BJP leaders.