Cornered: Will Narayan Rane settle for BJP’s Rajya Sabha offer against his wishes?
Political observers said Rane’s safest bet would be to accept the seat as he has run out of optionsmumbai Updated: Mar 03, 2018 14:04 IST
It was in April 2017 when former chief minister and then a senior Congress leader, Narayan Rane, was seen in Ahmedabad with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on his way back after meeting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah.
This supposedly clandestine meeting where pictures of Rane and Fadnavis travelling together got leaked, set the ball rolling for the former Sena and Congress leader’s third political switchover, this time to the BJP. It was also with this meeting that Rane lost much of his bargaining power as his talks with BJP became public.
After waiting for 10 months, at a meeting with Shah and Fadnavis again, this time in Delhi on Wednesday night, Rane got a concrete offer of a Rajya Sabha seat from the BJP. Will the former CM, who had been waiting for the BJP to deliver on its promise of a cabinet portfolio accept this lesser offer? Political observers said Rane’s safest bet would be to accept the Rajya Sabha offer since he was running out of options. Rane, however, has once again insisted on his preference for a cabinet portfolio. “Rane was told he can contest the Rajya Sabha seat now because there is no guarantee when a cabinet reshuffle can be done to accommodate him. The political scenario is such that we may be able to do so only after Karnataka polls, if at all. If he still chooses to wait for us, that’s fine but we cannot give a clear time frame,” said a BJP minister.
If he doesn’t get a cabinet post, his influence will be akin to smaller BJP allies – limited to a couple of constituencies. And, he will lose out on the Rajya Sabha seat.
From his first meeting with Shah to the one this week, Rane’s actions have left him with little recourse. He quit the Congress and resigned as a member of the state legislative council. After being refused a direct entry into the BJP because of Shiv Sena’s opposition, Rane launched his own party, the Maharashtra Swabhimani Party (MSP) in October 2017 and declared support to the BJP. All this was done for an assured seat in Fadnavis’ cabinet.
Currently, as the founder of MSP, Rane has no backing of a party or a position. There is also no reason why legislators unhappy with their parent parties should join his ahead of the polls. He has burnt bridges with both the Congress and Sena.
Even the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) that could have been an option for him last year may not want to take him on board at the risk of upsetting the Congress. If Rane goes against the BJP, the ruling party has enough wherewithal to get him or his kin under trouble. There is already a pending inquiry against him as the former industries minister, headed by former bureaucrat K P Bakshi committee, to look into the denotification of industrial land for private benefit for years.
“The CM never wanted Rane as he would have challenged his leadership. There is no reason for CM to take Rane at the risk of losing stability of our government,” said a senior BJP leader. NCP leader Jayant Patil said, “I think this is a lesson for others who want to join the BJP. They ensured he quit the party and kept changing their promises. Now, even a person like a former CM has been rendered helpless.”