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Ahead of Maharashtra polls, BJP rolls out welcome mat for Cong, NCP leaders

Radhesham Jadhav Pune | Updated on July 24, 2019 Published on July 24, 2019

Chandrakant Patil, BJP’s Maharashtra President

The BJP has welcomed Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders into its fold ahead of Maharasthra’s State Assembly polls scheduled in a few months. The BJP’s newly-elected State President, Chandrakant Patil, said the Opposition parties will struggle to get candidates for all 288 constituencies, as many sitting Congress and NCP MLAs are willing to join the BJP.

The BJP emerged the single-largest party in the 2014 Assembly polls with 122 seats, but failed to reach the majority mark of 145. NCP President Sharad Pawar had then offered to support the BJP as the Shiv Sena was dilly-dallying on taking a stand. After Pawar’s offer, the Sena joined the Government.

However, in the last five years the Sena has been targeting the BJP frequently, and the party’s leaders are unhappy to play a secondary role in the State. Even as BJP and Sena leaders have announced that they would join hands for the Assembly elections, BJP assigned a task to Patil — to get the party a full majority on its own. Patil, a RSS veteran comes from Kolhapur, which is Amit Shah’s wife’s home town and has the strong support of Sangh’s top echelon.

MLAs from the NCP and the Congress were waiting to join the BJP, Patil recently claimed, adding that had the Opposition MLAs resigned six months before Assembly elections, it would have necessitated by-polls. “We will welcome them in the party at the appropriate time,” Patil said, assuring that it will strike a balance between newcomers and party leaders while distributing party tickets.

BJP sources said that it was keen to make a dent in the Congress and the NCP in the sugar-belt of western Maharashtra. Many sugar barons, like Opposition Leader and Congress veteran Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and former minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil of the NCP are in the BJP camp.

The Congress recently appointed Balasaheb Thorat as the State President and four others as working presidents. Chandrakant Patil claimed that one of them would join the BJP in the next few days.

NCP leader Ajit Pawar alleged that the BJP was playing ‘ dirty’ power politics, while Balasaheb Thorat said that Congress leaders loyal to the party will never ‘fall into BJP’s trap’.

Published on July 24, 2019
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