The NCP on Sunday said one of its its 'missing' MLAs Anil Patil has expressed faith in the leadership of Sharad Pawar, indicating his return to the party fold. In another significant development, BJP MP Sanjay Kakade and NCP leaders Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal and Baban Shinde, who is considered close to Ajit Pawar, met Sharad Pawar at his residence here in the morning.
After the meeting, which lasted for 15 minutes, Kakade said he came to meet Pawar for his "personal work". Congress state chief and senior party leader Ashok Chavan also met Sharad Pawar.
Later, Chavan told reporters that the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena will form government as they "have the numbers".
"All the missing NCP MLAs will return to the party fold soon. The Congress MLAs are all together," he said.
After the BJP made a comeback to power in Maharashtra on Saturday with the help of NCP leader Ajit Pawar and his party's unspecified number of MLAs, some legislators of the Sharad Pawar-led party, including Anil Patil and Daulat Daroda, went 'missing'.
Patil was among the dozen odd MLAs who attended the swearing in of Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister along with NCP leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy on Saturday morning.
NCP spokesman Nawab Malik took to Twitter on Sunday and tagged Anil Patil's tweet which said the latter continues to be part of the NCP and expressed faith in the leadership of Sharad Pawar.
In the tweet, Patil said he went tothe Raj Bhawan since Ajit Pawar was the legislature party leader.
"I wasn't aware about what was going to happen at the Raj Bhawan. I am with Sharad Pawar," Patil said in the tweet.
Malik said this was an indication of Patil's return to the party fold.
Meanwhile, the family of Shahpur MLA Daulat Daroda, who went 'missing' on Saturday after reaching the Raj Bhawan in south Mumbai where Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar took oath, filed a missing person complaint with police.
Talking to PTI , Malik said till Sunday morning, five MLAs - Daulat Daroda, Nitin Pawar (Kalwan), Narhari Zhirwal (Dindori), Babasaheb Patil (Ahmedpur), Anil Patil (Amalner) - were reported missing.
"Of these, Anil Patil has indicated he is with the party led by Sharad Pawar. Ahmedpur MLA Babasaheb Patil is also expected to return. The rest will follow," he said.
According to sources, more than 45 NCP legislators, including Sharad Pawar's grand nephew Rohit Pawar, have been shifted to a suburban resort to prevent 'poaching'.
In a stunning turn of events, Fadnavis on Saturday returned as chief minister propped up by Ajit Pawar, who was made his deputy, just hours after the new alliance of Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress reached a consensus that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be their chief ministerial candidate.
Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at a hush hush ceremony here, leading to lifting of the President's rule in the state.
Ajit Pawar's volte face created fissures in the NCP, whose chief Sharad Pawar distanced himself from his nephew's dramatic action, saying the decision to back Fadnavis was his personal choice and not that of the party.
On Saturday evening, the NCP removed Ajit Pawar as the party's legislature unit head, saying his move was not in line with the party's policies.
The BJP and the Sena, which fought the last month's Assembly polls in an alliance, secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively.
The Sena, however, 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, both pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats respectively.