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NCP may claim Opposition leader’s post in Maharashtra if Narayan Rane switches sides

The rift that surfaced during the Gujarat Rajya Sabha biennial elections, widened after the Friday meet and may worsen

mumbai Updated: Aug 13, 2017 21:20 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,Narayan Rane
The Sharad Pawar-led party boycotted a meeting called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday.(HT FILE)

The NCP-Congress relations may worsen in Maharashtra after the Sharad Pawar-led party boycotted the meeting called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday. The rift that surfaced during the Gujarat Rajya Sabha biennial elections, widened after the Friday meet and may worsen if the NCP tries to snatch the post of leader of opposition in the wake of the potential political developments in the state.

When the NCP decided to boycott the meet to protest against questions being raised on its integrity, the Congress said the NCP was trying to get closer with the BJP.

The bitterness between the two may worsen as the NCP is planning to stake claim on the post of leader of state assembly as well. If Congress leader Narayan Rane quit the party with his son and couple of supporting legislators, it will dip the Congress strength in the lower house giving an opportunity to the NCP to claim the post. Rane, his son, MLA Nitesh and their close aide and party MLA Kalidas Kolambar too may join BJP in the near future. This will mean Congress will have 40 MLAs, against NCP’s 41. Based on the numbers, the NCP may claim the post. “Why would we leave our right to get the Opposition leader’s post? Any party would have done the same,” said a senior NCP leader.

The move will further weaken the Opposition in the state which is already sailing in troubled waters. This may be beneficial for the BJP-led state government. The ruling alliance BJP (122) and Shiv Sena (63) with the support of independent MLAs appears to be in a comparatively stronger position.

The talks over Rane defecting to the BJP gained momentum after media reported on his meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah and CM Devendra Fadnavis in Ahmedabad in April this year. Rane had admitted to getting an offer from the BJP sometime ago but denied attending any such meeting.

State Congress leaders believe that the NCP is moving away from opposition’s fold. “Their (NCP) actions are speaking a lot about their intentions,” commented a senior Congress leader.

When state housing minister Prakash Mehta was cornered by the opposition over corruption charges, the NCP drew the assembly’s attention to a corruption case against state industries minister and Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai. The party clearly served to the interest of the BJP, the Congress leader said.

“In another case, we (Congress-NCP) had planned grand celebrations for 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement on August 8. A meeting of state-level senior leaders of both the parties was called at Vidhan Bhavan, but senior NCP leaders gave it a miss,” said the Congress leader.

First Published: Aug 13, 2017 21:20 IST