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BJP offers Rajya Sabha seat to Narayan Rane after promise of Cabinet berth in Maharashtra

Former Congress leader was hoping to be inducted in state Cabinet, wants time to decide on the offer

mumbai Updated: Mar 03, 2018 14:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
mumbai,maharashtra,BJP
(HT FIle Photo)

Even though chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is unwilling to accommodate him in the state cabinet and the BJP has offered him a Rajya Sabha (RS) seat instead, former chief minister Narayan Rane insisted his preference would be to become a minister.

Rane is expected to take a call on the RS offer by next week and convey his decision to BJP chief Amit Shah. The offer was made to Rane during an hour-long meeting with Shah in New Delhi late on Wednesday.

“I was invited by the BJP to join its fold with an assurance it would give me any portfolio I wished for. Even the Wednesday meeting was held on their invitation. It has been five months since I joined the NDA. The BJP should keep its word given to a senior leader and former chief minister,” Rane said. He quit the Congress last September, floated his political outfit — Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh — and joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Since then, he has been kept waiting by the BJP leadership for his induction as a minister in the Fadnavis government. The CM is reluctant to accommodate Rane in his cabinet and has been pointing fingers at ally Shiv Sena’s strong opposition to the former chief minister’s entry.

The BJP, which has 122 members in the 288-member Assembly, has to depend on the Sena for stability of its government. Once a senior leader in the Sena, Rane is now a staunch opponent of Uddhav Thackeray and had quit party with a group of MLAs after criticising the latter’s leadership.

“I know the induction into the cabinet has been delayed due to some difficulties faced by the state leadership of the BJP, but the CM will have to take a firm stand on the assurance given to me. He should stand by his party’s trust shown in him,” he said.

Rane said he did not want to speak on the difficulties faced by the BJP in inducting him in the cabinet, but claimed the Sena’s threat won’t lead to the government getting toppled. “I did not ask the CM the reasons for the delay, but I firmly believe the Sena would not dare pull out of the government at any cost. As per my knowledge, 26 Sena MLAs are ready to support the government if their party decides to quit. There are a few from the other two main opposition parties, besides the support of seven independents. The Fadnavis government will complete its term, although I cannot comment if it will under the leadership of the incumbent CM,” he said.

Rane insisted he did not discuss the seats to be given to his sons Nitesh and Nilesh in 2019 general elections during his meeting with Shah.

Fadnavis and BJP’s Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar were present for the meeting which took place at Shah’s official residence. Nitesh, Rane’s younger son, accompanied his father.

A prominent Maratha leader, Rane wields influence in the Sindhudurg district of coastal Konkan region and has pockets of influence in several places in the state, including Mumbai.

Of the six seats from Maharashtra for which the biennial elections are being held on March 23, the BJP is expected to win at least three from its members in the legislative assembly. The last date to file the nomination for the polls is March 12, which means Rane will have to take a call by then.

State BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, “Rane is now an ally of the NDA and the BJP president can discuss current political issues with him. The decision of Rajya Sabha candidates will be taken by central parliamentary board in consultation with the chief minister and state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve.”

First Published: Mar 02, 2018 15:59 IST