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Narayan Rane makes next move, meets Amit Shah in Delhi

mumbai Updated: Sep 25, 2017 23:52 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Narayan Rane,BJP,Amit Shah

Rane told HT on Sunday that he would meet Shah and invite him to the inauguration of a medical college in his home town Sindhudurg(HT Correspondent)

Former chief minister Narayan Rane, who quit the Congress last week, met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah at his residence in New Delhi late on Monday night, along with state party president Raosaheb Danve and revenue minister Chandrakant Patil.

Sources told HT negotiations over the senior leader’s entry into the party directly or as an ally — heading an independent front — were discussed in the meeting.This includes whether Rane would be inducted in the state cabinet like some other smaller allies have been so far. A cabinet expansion is on the cards.

However, the BJP has not officially confirmed this.

“Rane did meet BJP president Amit Shah, but this was to invite him to inaugurate a hospital in Sindhudurg,’’ said Danve.

Rane had told HT the same a day earlier.

However, a senior BJP functionary told HT, “The deal with Rane is as good as finalised. He will join the party mostly as an ally, heading his own front on the lines of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha or other smaller allies. He will also be inducted in the cabinet. The party expects the leader to keep the muzzle on the Sena, expand the party base in Konkan at the cost of the Sena.’’

Interestingly, BJP national general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, Saroj Pandey had indicated on Monday morning itself that the party could admit Rane in its fold.

“If Rane accepts the BJP’s ideology, he can be considered [to join the party],” Pandey told Marathi news channel ABP Maza in Delhi, on the sidelines of the party’s national executive.

There has been speculation over Rane’s entry into the BJP for a couple of months now. However, the 65-year-old leader resigned from the Congress only last week, claiming he had been sidelined in the party.

The state BJP had been split over his induction because Fadnavis was not too keen on having the senior leader in the cabinet, who the CM believes is not used to playing second fiddle. Fadnavis was also wary that Rane’s induction in the party will push the Sena against the BJP, making life even more difficult for the saffron alliance.

A former chief minister during the Sena-BJP government, Rane defected to Congress in 2005 after criticising Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray, who had been anointed as heir apparent by the late Bal Thackeray. He was a minister in successive Congress governments until 2014, when the party lost power to the BJP. Rane lost the last Assembly elections in 2014 and a by-election in 2015 from Bandra in Mumbai on Congress tickets. He was rehabilitated by the party to the Legislative Council, but for the past few months, he was openly targeting the Congress leadership in Delhi and Mumbai. He quit the party after the state Congress dissolved the Sindhudurg district unit dominated by his supporters.

First Published: Sep 25, 2017 10:52 IST