Though the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) boasted of inducting nine independent MLAs on Monday, three legislators did not turn up for the event.
Vilas Lande, Laxman Jagtap from Pune and Ravi Rana from Amravati seem to be reluctant to join the party because of local equations and anti-incumbency against the NCP.
Lande (Bhosari) and Jagtap (Chinchwad) are considered as close confidants of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and were associate members in the assembly for the past five years.
Jagtap, who was considered as a party candidate for the Lok Sabha election in the first leg of negotiations, refused to contest because of the resentment among voters over the government’s failure to regularise the illegal constructions in Pimpri Chinchwad.
He later fought as a Peasant and Workers Party candidate and came second to the winning Shiv Sena candidate, Shrirang Barne.
Jagtap reportedly refused to join the NCP and is eyeing an RPI ticket as there are more Dalit in the constituency.
Similarly, Lande is believed to be reluctant to join the NCP and is likely to contest as a Sena candidate, as the party has its dominance in the constituency.
Badnera MLA Ravi Rana, whose wife and former actor Navneet Kaur was the NCP candidate from Amravati Lok Sabha constituency, has been associated with the party for the past five years.
The NCP had reportedly offered seats to Rana from Badnera and his wife from Daryapur, but the duo has not responded yet.
Rana, who has his own outfit called Swabhimani, wants to fight as an independent once again.
Pawar, however, claimed that the entry of the MLAs was just the first round and the party will see many more sitting MLAs in the near future. Mansinh Naik (Shirala), Balasaheb Patil (Karad North), Babasaheb Patil (Ahmedpur), Makrand Patil, Ramesh Thorat, Suresh Deshmukh (Wardha), Sharad Gavit (Navapur), Sahebrao Patil (Amalner), Dilip Sopal (Barshi) joined the party on Monday.
The development may, however, strain the Congress-NCP alliance, as some constituencies are the seats fought by the Congress in the last election. “It has been our understanding with the Congress that sitting independent MLAs get tickets from the party they have been supporting. I don’t think there will be any problem between the two parties,” Pawar said.