New Delhi: NCP leader and former Union Minister Praful Patel, who, in the November 17 party meet, supported Ajit Pawar’s idea of forming an alliance with BJP, played the most crucial role in getting Ajit to resign as Maharashtra’s deputy Chief Minister, news agency IANS has reported.

Ajit’s resignation on Tuesday afternoon quickly led to Devendra Fadnavis, too, stepping down as Chief Minister, paving the way for Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to succeed him.

According to the IANS report, after multiple attempts by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar failed to convince Ajit to resign and return to the party fold, it was Patel, until recently under the Enforcement Directorate (ED) scanner for alleged links with late gangster Iqbal Mirchi, who was finally able to convince Ajit to meet NCP leaders for what turned out to be the meeting that led to his ‘change of heart.’

Earlier, Ajit had refused to budge even after senior NCP leaders like state chief Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Sunil Tatkare among others, tried to convince him to come back.

Hours after resigning on Tuesday, Ajit Pawar also met Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule, at the senior Pawar’s residence Silver Oak.

Earlier on Saturday, in dramatic early morning developments, Fadnavis had taken oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister for the second time with Ajit Pawar taking oath as his deputy.