Shiv Sena MP Tukaram Renge Patil remained incognito till Monday morning despite efforts by party functionaries to access him, bringing into question his participation on behalf of the Opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during Tuesday's crucial trust vote in parliament.
There are reports that the Lok Sabha MP from Parbhani in Marathwada region of Maharashtra has been spirited away and kept in hiding somewhere in Hyderabad by Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's aides and that he is likely to abstain from voting.
Renge Patil did not attend any of the two consecutive meetings of the party MPs - the first summoned by Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray at his Mumbai residence 'Matoshri' Saturday or the second one convened in Delhi on Sunday. The remaining 11 party MPs attended the meetings.
Interestingly, the meeting at 'Matoshri', first scheduled to be held Saturday afternoon, was deferred till late evening that day to ensure the presence of all 12 party MPs. This was done in the backdrop of reports that Congress leaders were in touch with some 'vulnerable' Shiv Sena MPs, informed sources said.
Admitting that Renge Patil did not attend either of the party meetings and that he remained untraced till Monday morning, Shiv Sena spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut told IANS that he hoped the truant member would turn up to vote as per the party directive.
"He (Renge Patil) has not reached Delhi so far and we don't know where he is, but we hope he will come in time to vote against the trust motion on Tuesday," Raut said. "His family members have also told the party they don't know his whereabouts," he added.
Admitting that the party MP has differences with the party legislator from Parbhani, Sanjay alias Bandu Jadhav, Raut clarified that Renge Patil has no problems with the party as such.
Not ruling out the possibility of the Shiv Sena MP having been 'kidnapped' by those seeking to make him vote for the motion or keep him away from voting, Raut lamented that the MP's family members have not made any police complaint about his disappearance.
While Renge Patil's son and Shiv Sena youth wing Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena's regional convener Balasaheb Patil told the media Saturday noon that his father was headed for Mumbai to attend the party MPs' meet, he has ever since maintained that he and other family members have lost touch with him.
Sources said that Chief Minister Deshmukh, who too hails from Marathwada, was personally trying to persuade Renge Patil to switch sides or abstain from voting.