Former Congress leader Narayan Rane to get cabinet berth in Fadnavis govt
Former chief minister Narayan Rane’s induction in the Devendra Fadnavis-led cabinet as a member of the National Democratic Alliance, heading an independent regional outfit, is now being considered as fait accompli in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) circles.
Rane is expected to announce the launch of his independent party next month, according to the script drafted by the BJP top brass.
This is likely to be followed by the senior leader’s induction in the state cabinet.
The cabinet reshuffle is widely expected to be carried out between October 10 to 15, but this rejig could be postponed to after Diwali as well.
Sources also told the Hindustan Times that while the senior leader may not get a portfolio he had bargained for like housing, urban development department and home, he would also not be sidelined completely with an insignificant department.
He could be given a portfolio like public works department, said a senior BJP leader, on condition of anonymity.
“The party top brass thought it fit that he (Rane) should not join the BJP directly and instead float an independent outfit. An alliance would be of use to us to split opposition votes and take on the Shiv Sena. It will also help us to keep some distance from the baggage Rane brings with him, including the reputation of his sons because of their past controversies,’’ said a senior BJP functionary.
In other words, Rane will play a role for BJP akin to what senior Congress leader Shankersingh Waghela played in Gujarat by floating a third front. In the 2019 polls, Rane, is mainly expected to take on the Sena in its bastion of Konkan, where the BJP has only one out of 15 legislators.
Ahead of the elections, the BJP also expects the leader to counter the Sena’s consistent attacks against the government.
HT had reported in its edition on Tuesday that such a deal was as good as finalised after Rane met BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi this week. And Rane would be inducted into the cabinet on the lines of leaders of other smaller parties and allies of the BJP such as Mahadev Jankar of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha or Sadabhau Khot of formerly Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana.
The deal is not according to Rane’s wishes, but given that his bargaining powers were clipped after two electoral losses — 2014 assembly polls and 2015 by-polls — there is little the former chief minister can do at this stage. He has also burnt bridges with the Congress and the Sena. And sources said he thought it better to put his lot with the BJP than with a regional party like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The next two years will decide whether the former Sena rebel’s second political gamble will pay off. But the way ahead — including getting himself and his supporters elected within six months — doesn’t look easy. And, for now, it is advantage BJP.