Leaders’ poll call: ‘State cause and defect’

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Updated on Oct 01, 2019 12:38 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondents

Monday was the day of switching sides by political leaders from ruling parties to opposition and vice versa in the run-up to the state Assembly elections scheduled on October 21. With only four days left to file nomination papers, more defections are likely to be seen in the next couple of days.

It started with Namita Mundada, NCP candidate from Kaij assembly constituency, in Beed district, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday. She joined the ruling party in the presence of state rural development minister Pankaja Munde in Parli of Beed district. The NCP may now declare its former legislator Prithviraj Sathe as its candidate from the seat.

Two sitting Congress MLAs — Gopaldas Agrawal and Kashiram Pawara joined BJP in two different events. In addition, Gopichand Padalkar, a Dhangar leader and Lok Sabha candidate for the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), also joined the ruling saffron party. Agrawal represents Gondia, while Pawara comes from Shirpur assembly seat. Meanwhile, another Congress MLA Bharat Bhalke and former Shiv Sena MLA Daular Daroda joined the NCP. Bhalke represents Pandharpur, while Daroda is a former MLA from Shahpur. Significantly, Bhalke was on his way to the BJP, but changed his mind after a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday.

Padalkar will be contesting the Assembly elections from Baramati against senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. “He is a tiger and because of that, I want him to contest from the Baramati constituency. If all of you agree then I’ll speak to the party top brass and finalise this,” said chief minister Fadnavis.

This is the first incident in this Assembly election when an official candidate of an opposition party (NCP) has joined the ruling party. Mundada is also likely to get candidature from BJP on the same seat.

Mundada’s name as a candidate was declared by Pawar when he was in Beed district as part of his statewide tour on September 18. She was also among the first five candidates declared by the NCP so far.

Mundada comes from a political background. She is daughter-in-law of former NCP minister Vimal Mundada. Vimal Mundada had started her political career from BJP and was elected for the first time from Kaij assembly constituency in 1990. Later, Vimal joined NCP and was given ministerial berth. She lost her fight against cancer in March 2012.

The party had decided not to give second chance to former MLA Prithviraj Sathe, who lost the assembly polls against BJP’s Sangita Thombre in 2014. “Sathe was keen to contest again, but Namita was picked. Now they are again considering him for giving the election ticket,” said another NCP leader wishing not to be named.

Sathe was elected in the by-poll following Vimal Mundada’s death in 2012.

Agrawal is a three-term Congress MLA, who joined the party along with six Congress ZP members from Gondia district. Fadnavis specially flew to Nagpur to remain present at the joining ceremony of Agrawal at a five-star hotel last evening. On Monday, he sent his resignation to party chief Sonia Gandhi and state assembly speaker Haribhau Bagde.

“Given the popularity of the BJP, even in the rush of filing nominations, we are inducting some leaders including youth leader of the Dhangars, Gopichand Padalkar, and Congress legislator Kashiram Pawara,’’ said state BJP president Chandrakant Patil.

“Pawara is a follower of Congress stalwart and education baron Amrish Patel, whom we are trying to get into our party and who is expected to join us soon,” he said.

Pawara is a two-term MLA from the constituency.

Bhalke was expected to join the BJP, but his induction was stalled at the last minute, after which he decided to join Congress. He resigned as a member of the Assembly on Monday and had also met Pawar and other senior leaders such as Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil before being inducted in the party.

Bhalke, a two-term MLA from Congress, was supposed to join BJP along with Kashiram Pawara. However, the state leadership didn’t not get go ahead from party leadership on Bhalke’s name after which his induction was stalled, said a BJP leader, wishing not to be named.

“Our understanding with the Congress is in a good state at present and the issue of Pandharpur seat will be easily resolved. The seat is with Congress in the seat sharing agreement,” said a senior NCP leader, who doesn’t want to be quoted.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said that the party high command will take a call on what exactly needs to be done on this issue.

Former Shiv Sena MLA Daulat Daroda also joined NCP. Daroda was upset with the party after Sena decided to give its candidature to sitting NCP MLA Pandurang Barora for the assembly elections. Barora has recently joined the Shiv Sena. “Many more leaders, who are unhappy with their respective parties, are in our contact. Their names will be revealed at an appropriate time,” said Ajit after inducting Bhalke and Daroda.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021