NCP MLA Vaibhav Pichad to join BJP, Pawar says not worried about defections
Even as one more Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA, Vaibhav Pichad, on Saturday announced his decision to join the ruling dispensation, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said he was not worried about defections and knew how to deal with the situation. He also accused the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) of using government agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to pressurise Opposition legislators into joining the ruling party.
Meanwhile, there was speculation over former NCP minister Rajesh Tope being in touch with the Shiv Sena.“He is in talks with the Sena leadership and may join in the days to come,” said a party insider. However, Tope, who is a sitting MLA from Jalna district, denied it. “This is false. I am not going anywhere. I am in NCP only,” he said.
Vaibhav Pichad, who represents Akole Assembly constituency from Ahmednagar district, said he decided to join the BJP because CM Devendra Fadnavis had given him an assurance to resolve issues of his constituency. Vaibhav will be the third NCP MLA joining one of the two ruling parties in the past two months. The other two are Jaydutt Kshirsagar and Pandurang Barora, who both joined the Sena.
Vaibhav is the son of senior NCP leader Madhukar Pichad, who will also be joining the BJP along with his son. Madhukar is a former state president of the NCP. “Sometimes we are forced to take bitter decisions in life. This is one such moment. CM Devendra Fadnavis has assured to resolve all the issues of the constituency. Thus I have decided to join BJP,” Vaibhav said in Ahmednagar district.
“We have got full support from NCP chief Sharad Pawar. However, the country is changing and we were in a situation where we had to decide between being for development or against development. We decided to be part of development,” Madhukar said.
Pawar said the defections do not worry him. “I am not worried about any of the defections as I experienced a similar situation back in 1980 as CM. Of our total strength of 60 MLAs, only six remained in the (Congress) while I was on an official foreign tour. In the subsequent election, all those who defected from the party got defeated and I got back all my 60 seats,” he said. “Some like to be part of government all their life and those are the ones leaving the party. On the other hand, the ruling parties are using investigation agencies such as ED to force our leaders to quit the party and join them. But the situation has given us an opportunity to bring more young people into the party, which makes me happy.” On Friday, state NCP women president Chitra Wagh resigned from her position and is likely to join BJP in a few days. She was replaced by Rupali Chakankar on Saturday.