In what has become a major embarrassment and a setback for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and its state president Sunil Tatkare, his nephew Sandeep joined the Shiv Sena at the party headquarters, Sena Bhavan, in Dadar on Sunday .
Sandeep’s entry into Sena, ahead of the municipal council polls in Raigad, the home turf of Tatkare, points at the rift in the family that may prove costly to the NCP. Sandeep is the son of Tatkare’s brother Anil and brother of NCP MLA Avdoot Tatkare, who contested the assembly seat of Shrivardhan, (his uncle Sunil Tatkare’s seat) in 2014 polls after the later was asked to represent Raigad in the Lok Sabha polls.
Senior Sena leader and Union minister Anant Geete, who defeated Tatkare in 2014 Lok sabha polls in Raigad 2014, MLA Bharat Gogawale and leader Aadesh Bandekar were present at the function when Sandeep formally joined the party with his supporters.
“I was not even a member of the NCP, so there is no question of switching sides. I believe in Uddhavji’s leadership and hence joined the party,’’said Sandeep.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said that Sandeep had joined Sena due to some family dispute and this would have no bearing on the NCP or the outcome of the upcoming polls.
Nine municipal councils in Raigad will go to polls in the next two months. It has been learnt that Sandeep was keen on a ticket as the president of one of the municipal councils, but was denied the same by his uncle. He will now contest as a Sena candidate.
The Sena and the NCP are in a close contest over asserting their supremacy in Konkan, with Tatkare being one of the foremost leaders of the NCP in the region from Raigad district. A split in the Tatkare family could lead to a virtual split in the NCP party unit in the district, thus compounding NCP’s troubles. With reports that NCP’s former state president and minister Bhaskar Jadhav, who hails from neighbouring Ratnagiri district, being unhappy with the party and former NCP leader from Sindhudurg, Deepak Kesarkar (sitting Sena minister), having quit the party to join Sena in 2014, the party’s base in Konkan seems to be under threat.
The NCP, however, dismissed the speculations, with Malik pointing out that the upcoming election would decide which Tatkare had control of the region.