Senior Congress leader Narayan Rane finds himself at the cross-roads with the BJP appearing to have put on hold his induction in the party and the Congress almost giving him up as an outsider. Late Saturday night, top leadership of the BJP discussed Rane’s political fate and arrived at the conclusion that they should not show any undue haste in getting him and his sons in the BJP.
A highly-placed source in the BJP told The Indian Express: “The central leadership of the BJP cannot override the voices of dissent within the state leaders against inducting Rane and his two sons, Nitesh and Nilesh, in the organisation immediately.” Earlier this week, Rane reportedly held a meeting with BJP president Amit Shah in Ahmedabad.
A senior cabinet minister, requesting anonymity, told The Indian Express: “At the moment, there is no serious thought given on why the BJP should consider Rane in the organisation with urgency, specially if it comes with terms and conditions.” If there is any decision, it will happen at the appropriate time, he added. Two aspects being discussed are if Rane were to join the BJP, he would have to be accommodated as a Union cabinet minister in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government or at least given a significant role in the BJP organisation led by Amit Shah.
Secondly, it may have to consider induction of his son Nitesh as a minister of state in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ government in the state. The argument within the BJP is whether the Centre and state should pay so much price for the induction of one Congress leader.
While acknowledging that Rane wields political clout confined to his hometown Sindhudurg, the larger question remains will it make sense to antagonise alliance partner Shiv Sena, which is in coalition with the BJP at the Centre and the state. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Rane have been at loggerheads ever since he left the parent party Sena and joined the Congress in 2005.
Moreover, political managers are worried that if Rane’s terms and conditions are accepted, it would have to honour similar demands from more illustrious politicians who express their keenness to associate with Modi and Shah’s party. Late Saturday evening, some ministers held discussions with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari to elicit his views on the matter in the wake of the growing perception that he is promoting Rane’s case in the BJP. While revealing the facts, a minister said: “If there is any decision, it will be collective and not taken by any individual leader.”
According to senior political commentator Abhay Deshpande, “If Rane joins the BJP, it may be a great advantage to the ruling party. But it certainly would be a big disadvantage for the opposition as he is an aggressive voice in the opposition.” To that extent it would also help the BJP to mute the aggression against them within the Congress, he observed. While indicating that the BJP may consider Rane in the coming days, he said: “This time, it is evident that the Congress is not making any attempt to stop him from switching political parties.”