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BJP divided over Congress leader Narayan Rane’s induction in the party?

The deal the BJP is likely to offer to Rane, according to a senior leader, is a Rajya Sabha seat for himself, a junior minister’s post for his second son, Nitesh, and membership of the legislative council for his elder son, Nilesh.

mumbai Updated: Aug 29, 2017 12:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Narayan Rane,BJP
(HT File)

The Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra appears divided on the issue of inducting senior Congress leader Narayan Rane into its ranks.

A meeting of senior BJP leaders was held on Sunday night with the party president Amit Shah, but there are conflicting reports of what transpired. One section of the state brass said the formula for inducting Rane was finalised, while others refuted this.

The deal the BJP is likely to offer to Rane, according to a senior leader, is a Rajya Sabha seat for himself, a junior minister’s post for his second son, Nitesh, and membership of the legislative council for his elder son, Nilesh. However, a BJP minister dismissed the possibility saying such a deal was too extravagantly in favour of the Ranes – as it accommodated the senior leader and both his sons.

Sources in the BJP told HT that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is not keen on a cabinet reshuffle immediately and would prefer to induct Rane into the party by the end of 2017 or early in 2018, closer to the polls in 2019.

Political observers also said that this talk of differences in the BJP could well be a strategy to drive a hard bargain with Rane.

Earlier, speculation was rife that Rane would be inducted over the weekend in the presence of Shah, who was on a visit to the city on Sunday. The BJP has been wooing Rane with Fadnavis paying a visit to his home on Ganesh Chaturthi last week and state party president Raosaheb Danve following it up with a visit late on Sunday, but so far there has been no official word on Rane joining the party.

“The party’s top brass in Delhi is looking at Rane to increase the party base and seats in Konkan, where the Shiv Sena is stronger. There is a view that Rane can keep the Sena as well as the Congress in check with his aggressive posturing. But, he can prove to be a nuisance too for the CM given his outspokenness, seniority and ambition,’’ said a senior BJP minister.

He added that sending Rane to the Rajya Sabha would be a much better option than having him occupy a plum portfolio in the state cabinet and that the `formula’ was one way of sending a signal to the senior Congress leader that a cabinet portfolio was not on offer. At the end of the day, the BJP president will take the call on Rane.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and former minister Eknath Khadse expressed his discontent over Rane’s induction comparing his own role to that of former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.

“Now, we have to welcome outsiders into the party and the role of old timers like myself is to advise them,’’ said Khadse, former number 2 in the Fandavis cabinet, while speaking to media in his home town in Jalgaon. Khadse was asked to resign following allegations of impropriety and graft in a land deal.

Also, putting all the speculations over them joining the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at rest; the Nationalist Congress Party on Monday denied any such move. Senior NCP leader Praful Patel on Monday said the speculation had no basis.

NCP MP and party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter also rubbished the speculation.

“There is no basis for speculation that NCP is joining government in Delhi,” Patel tweeted after speculations was on rife that NCP is joining NDA fold following Nitish Kumar, Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar chief minister.

Sule told HT that there was no question of her joining the NDA government as a minister and she had been hearing such rumours for the past three years. She denied Pawar would join the NDA.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar is known for his cordial relations with the BJP top brass, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The NCP that had also extended unsolicited support to the BJP to stabilise its government in the state after the party failed to get majority in the assembly elections in 2014.

First Published: Aug 29, 2017 10:31 IST

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