Devendra Fadnavis meets Congress MLA in Pandharpur; sparks defection buzz
Bharat Bhalke, Congress MLA from Pandharpur, hosted Fadnavis at his residence.Updated: Jul 13, 2019, 01:18 IST
In the backdrop of Congress MLAs in Karnataka and Goa switching over to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s meeting with Congress MLA from Pandharpur Bharat Bhalke on Friday raised eyebrows in political corridors.
Bhalke hosted Fadnavis at his residence on Friday, after the customary puja by the latter on the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi. Bhalke is believed to be one of the Congress MLAs likely to join the ruling party soon. Jaykumar Gore (Maan), Gopaldas Agarwal (Gondiya) are the other MLAs who are believably in touch with BJP leaders. Gore had campaigned for the BJP candidate in Lok Sabha candidate from Madha in Lok Sabha election. Nitesh Rane (Kankavali) and Kalidas Kolambkar (Naigaon) have been sulking over the activities in the party for more than two years.
Fadnavis visited Bhalke’s house after the puja at Vitthal temple in Pandharpur on Friday. Although both Fadnavis and Bhalke chose to remain silent on the meeting, the CM believably discussed politics with the MLA and the ticket for the forthcoming Assembly elections. As the constituency is with Shiv Sena as part of the seat-sharing arrangement between the two ruling parties, the CM’s role is believed to be crucial.
Fadnavis will have to either convince the Sena to adjust Bhalke in the party or will have to get the seat exchanged during talks over the seat sharing between two parties. Fadnavis played a key role in Jaydutt Kshirsagar’s defection from Nationalist Congress Party and induction in the state cabinet as Shiv Sena leader. The CM had paid visit to Kshirsagar’s home in Beed two years ago, triggering speculation of Kshirsagar quitting the NCP. He joined the Shiv Sena instead of BJP, which was believably result of an understanding between the two ruling parties. He was inducted in the state cabinet last month.
Bhalke was one of the four MLAs who had accompanied former Congress leader and leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil when he resigned as an MLA before officially joining the BJP. Bhalke was not available for comment. Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “We are not aware about the meeting and the discussion between Fadnavis and Bhalke.”
Meanwhile, the cyber cell of the Mumbai police registered an FIR for the threats to Congress’s state general secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had given an assurance of strict action against persons targeting Sawant on social media for his ‘anti government’ views.