As BJP inducts NCP MP Udayanraje Bhonsle, the war between the two parties intensifies
NCP hit back at Bhosale’s induction by alleging BJP was luring royals by promising to allow the sale of lands in erstwhile princely states. Pawar also inducted former BJP legislator Vijay Ghodmare (from Nagpur district) into NCP on Saturday.Updated: Sep 15, 2019 06:58 IST
With Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) sitting member of parliament (MP) Udayanraje Bhosale joining Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday, the NCP-BJP war is set to intensify ahead of the Assembly polls in Maharashtra. Bhosale’s defection is a big blow as it comes on the back of mass defections from NCP to BJP, including four prominent former ministers as well as four sitting legislators.
Bhosale, a three-time MP, was inducted into BJP on Saturday, in Delhi, in the presence of the party president Amit Shah.
“We all are inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji and have been trying to follow him since Jana Sangh (Akhil Bhartiya Jana Sangh) days. We are happy that his [Shivaji’s] descendant will now be working with us,” Shah said of Bhosale at the function.
NCP hit back at Bhosale’s induction by alleging BJP was luring royals by promising to allow the sale of lands in erstwhile princely states. Pawar also inducted former BJP legislator Vijay Ghodmare (from Nagpur district) into NCP on Saturday. “Bhosale joined BJP only to be able to sell historic properties of Shivaji, which is not permissible by law right now. Even if BJP has assured him that he will be able to sell those properties, NCP will not let this happen. We will do everything to protect Shivaji’s legacy,” said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik.
Meanwhile, more NCP leaders indicated that they may join the saffron fold. So far, sitting NCP legislators who have joined the BJP include Vaibhav Pichad, Sandeep Naik, Rana Jagjitsinh Patil and Shivendra Bhosale (kin of Udyanraje). Senior leaders and former ministers include Ganesh Naik, Padamsinh Patil, Madhukar Pichad and Sachin Ahir. With loss of Bhosale, NCP’s MP tally is now down to three.
For the BJP, Bhosale is a prize catch given his Maratha and royal lineage. The MP, who quit his Lok Sabha membership from Satara, is likely to now contest in a bypoll that may be held along with Assembly polls in October. At his induction function, Bhosale said of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, “He never gives a free hand to people. The same happened to me when I was nominated as party’s candidate from Satara for Lok Sabha polls. This is the main reason why people are leaving him. If you ask them [NCP defectors] in private, they will tell you the same.”
Pawar’s daughter and NCP MP Supriya Sule wished him well, but questioned why Bhosale had not expressed his unhappiness earlier.
This will be Bhosale’s second stint with the BJP. Previously, he had joined the party when the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government was in power in Maharashtra in the mid-1990s. In 1998, Bhosale was made a minister of state by then deputy chief minister and BJP leader, Gopinath Munde. Later, Bhosale joined the NCP and contested the Lok Sabha elections for them in 2009.
A few hours after Bhosale’s induction, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis took the poll battle to Baramati, Pawar’s home turf. Fadnavis addressed people from the party vehicle and challenged both “chacha and bhatija” (Pawar and his nephew and former deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar) in his speech.
Baramati was tense after the Maha Jana Desh Yatra, led by Fadnavis, reached the city and supporters from both parties clashed. Fadnavis was accompanied by former Congress minister-turned-BJP leader, Harshawardhan Patil, and state BJP chief, Chandrakant Patil. The police had to resort to mild lathi charge to disperse the crowd.
Later, in a public meeting at Varvad in Pune, Fadnavis again targeted the NCP. “Bhosale, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji, joined BJP today. Now Shivaji’s descendants are with us. I am coming from Baramati and was happy about the warm welcome I received from people there. Today, few people will not be able to get sleep in the night,” he said, hinting at Pawar without naming him.