Narayan Rane latest Congress leader on way to BJP because of his sons
Narayan Rane reportedly wants to get his sons Nitesh and Nilesh elected to legislative assembly and council on BJP tickets.india Updated: Sep 22, 2017 13:48 IST
Former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane, who quit the Congress on Thursday, has joined the list of senior leaders from the grand old party heading to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) keeping in mind their future prospects as well as that of their political heirs.
Though Rane said he will disclose his future course of action after a week, he has been in talks with BJP leaders about joining the ruling outfit. Rane has been negotiating with them and wants a state cabinet berth or a Rajya Sabha seat for himself and the rehabilitation of his two sons—former MP Nilesh and Congress MLA Nitesh.
Sources close to Rane say it was his sons who were instrumental in the senior leader’s decision to quit Congress.
“Both Nilesh and Nitesh pointed out that they did not see any future in the Congress,” said the sources.
Rane wants the BJP to field Nitesh as its candidate in the by-election if he resigns as the Congress MLA. He is also exploring the possibility if his elder son Nilesh could be sent to the legislative council on a BJP ticket.
Nitesh was elected as Congress candidate from Kankavli in Sindhdurg district of Konkan region in 2014 while Nilesh lost his Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg parliamentary seat to Shiv Sena’s Vinayak Raut in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He won the seat first in 2009.
Rane, 65, a Maratha leader, started his political career as an ordinary Shiv Sena worker from Chembur in Mumbai.
He rose up the ranks to become the chief minister of Maharashtra in 1999 when Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray picked him to replace Manohar Joshi to head the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government. Rane did not get along well with Thackeray’s son and political heir Uddhav and quit the party in 2005.
He joined the Congress and was a minister in successive governments till 2014 when the party was voted out of the power in the assembly elections.
“We know Rane was unhappy in the Congress. However, we don’t know whether he really wanted to quit the party or did so for the political future of his two sons,” said a senior Congress leader.
Rane is not the first Congress leader to do so.
According to the buzz in political circles, former Gujarat chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela’s son Mahendrasinh too played a role in his father’s decision to quit the Congress in June. Vaghela walked out of the party with 13 MLAs and has now floated a third front ahead of Gujarat assembly elections. Ten of his MLAs have joined the BJP.
In another neighbouring state of Karnataka, former chief minister SM Krishna quit the Congress in January last and joined the BJP after two months. Krishna apparently consulted his son-in-law VG Siddhartha before taking the decision.
Congress leaders in Maharashtra say Rane’s departure won’t affect the party much.
“His influence was limited to a part of Sindhudurg district of Konkan. Twelve years ago when he announced quitting the Shiv Sena, he had 11 MLAs with him. Now, he has only two including his son Nitesh. He lost the 2014 assembly elections. He was fielded by a byelection to the assembly from Bandra in Mumbai in 2015 and even lost that. His son lost the Lok Sabha seat from Konkan. It is clear what is his political strength now,” said a top Congress leader.
“In fact, it is his sons who have been running the show which upset most of the legislators close to him and they distanced themselves from Rane,” he added.
Officially, the party has refrained from criticising him.
“I wish him all the best,” said state Congress chief Ashok Chavan.
The BJP, on the other hand, is not showing any hurry to induct the Ranes in its fold. None of the top leaders of the saffron party has reacted to Rane’s announcement to quit the Congress yet.
Rane will now tour Maharashtra and target the Congress through meetings and press conferences in the next few days. He has said he will be making his next announcement on Dussehra, which will be observed on September 30.