With no deal finalised with BJP yet, will Narayan Rane’s second gamble pay off?
When Rane officially joined the Congress, he had the support of 11 sitting Shiv Sena legislators, who defected in principle with him. Now, he is alonemumbai Updated: Sep 22, 2017 12:44 IST
Will former chief minister Narayan Rane’s second political gamble in the sunset years of his career work in his favour? On Thursday, the six-time legislator and sitting member of Legislative Council resigned from the Congress after a 12-year stint in the party. His tenure was marked by outbursts of anger and bitterness over not being made the chief minister of Maharashtra.
From July 2005, when Rane joined the Congress, to September 2017— it’s been a long road. His political clout has declined. The once-invincible politician has lost two polls — the 2014 Assembly polls and 2015 bypolls from Bandra.
When Rane officially joined the Congress, he had the support of 11 sitting Shiv Sena legislators, who defected in principle with him. The next day, he was made revenue minister. When he made his second gamble and quit the Congress, he was alone. Currently, Rane has the support of only two sitting legislators — his son Nitesh and aide Kalidas Kolambkar.
For now, joining the BJP seems to be the only option for the leader, considering he has burnt his bridges with the Sena and Congress and does not have anything positive to say about the NCP. Starting his own front, is less of an alternative and more of a compromise, one that will marginalise him in the state polity.
It is telling that the BJP is muted about Rane joining its bandwagon. It is also a give away that Rane is already under the ambit of a probe recently announced by CM Fadnavis against industries minister Subhash Desai.
Instead of limiting the probe into the denotification of industrial land to Desai’s tenure, Fadnavis has enlarged its scope to include the tenure of industries ministers over the past decade. Rane was the industries minister in the Congress-led government from 2010 to 2014.
It is no secret that Fadnavis is wary of taking the senior leader into his cabinet as Rane is unlikely to toe the line or play second fiddle.
“Rane is keen on a cabinet portfolio and is willing to settle for the public works department. But, the party’s top brass will decide when and whether he will be inducted into the cabinet,’’ said a senior BJP minister. He said the Delhi leadership added that as Rane would be useful in the state, it would make sense to keep him here. However, other senior BJP leaders said no deal has been finalised.
“No one has signed the dotted line yet. It is better to wait and see what Rane brings to the table. He can be trouble,’’ said a senior BJP functionary. The BJP is also undecided over how it will tackle its sulking ally, the Sena, which is threatening to walk out of the government if Rane joins it. Sena’s 63 legislators stabilise the Fadnavis-led government.
What’s clear is that Rane no longer enjoys the bargaining position he did a decade ago.