BJP to open doors for NCP’s Udyanraje Bhosale?
Trouble could be brewing for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), as speculation is rife that one of its four sitting members of Parliament (MP), Udyanraje Bhosale from Satara, might quit the party.
Bhosale, the 13th descendent of Maratha warrior-king Shivaji, is a two-term MP and Satara is said to be an NCP bastion.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been wooing Bhosale to placate Maratha agitators, who see him as one of the de facto leaders of the community. The party has already nominated Sambhaji Raje, also a descendent of Shivaji and Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, to Rajya Sabha. Poaching Bhosale will help the BJP stake claim for the Satara seat in Western Maharashtra.
A senior minister from the BJP admitted his party had contacted Bhosale recently and last year as well.
“We will welcome Bhosale into the BJP fold. Recently, we also offered to support him if he contested the Lok Sabha seat independently,’’ said a BJP minister.
While NCP rubbished the rumours, Bhosale remained unavailable for comment.
Jayant Patil, president of the NCP’s Maharashtra unit, said, “Udyanraje is our sitting MP and he will contest the Satara seat for the NCP in 2019. He also met NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday. There are no differences between him and the party.”
To end the speculation, Pawar said in Pune there was no opposition to Udyanraje in the party.
Rumours about Bhosale quitting the NCP started doing rounds after NCP MLAs from the region, including his cousin Shivendra Bhosale, met Pawar last week during his one-day trip to Satara and complained against Bhosale. They allegedly suggested former Sikkim governor Shrinivas Patil, also a close aide of Pawar, should contest 2019 LS polls from Satara. Patil’s tenure ended in August.
“Patil is a former two-term MP from Karad. If Udyanraje acts pricey, Pawarsaheb will consider him [Patil] for the seat. That message has been sent to him,’’ said a senior NCP functionary.
NCP has won four out of six assembly constituencies that fall under Satara LS constituency.