Nagpur: Former Minister Nawab Malik, who was jailed for 18 months in an alleged money-laundering case, is understood to have joined the breakaway Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) faction led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, here on Thursday.
Malik, 64, spent time in prison from February 2022 – August 2023, and is currently out on a medical bail, according to party sources.
Earlier, Ajit Pawar told mediapersons that he had called up Malik and told that “you are most welcome in Nagpur”, adding that he is a senior leader capable of taking his own decisions on such matters.
This morning, he went to Nagpur for the Winter Session of Maharashtra Legislature and visited the office of one of the Ajit Pawar group leaders in the Vidhan Bhavan complex, raising eyebrows.
Appearing embarrassed but smiling, he interacted with several legislators and other officials there, exchanging pleasantries, shaking hands and waving out to some, coming to make his first legislative session appearance in nearly two years.
Soon after the legislature session started, Malik was seen occupying the back row on the treasury benches in the Assembly, confirming that he had thrown his weight behind Ajit Pawar.
However, senior NCP (Sharad Pawar) leaders in Mumbai and Nagpur declined to comment on the developments but said that “he (Malik) is a senior leader and must have taken his decision after considering all aspects”.
Since his release on bail in mid-August, Malik was being wooed by both the Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar factions, but he had kept his cards close to the chest, sparking speculation, which has now ended.