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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Maharashtra: Congress-NCP desertions continue, Opposition meets

The meeting assumes significance as the opposition parties are keen on putting up a united front before the BJP-Shiv Sena in the upcoming Assembly elections.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: July 30, 2019 2:30:04 am
Congress president Rahul Gandhi during the Parliament. (Express photo by Renuka Puri)

Opposition leaders like NCP’s Maharashtra president Jayant Patil, MNS chief Raj Thackeray and farmer leader Raju Shetti held deliberations in Mumbai in the backdrop of the exodus of senior NCP and Congress leaders to the BJP and Shiv Sena in the last few days.
Among the leaders who met were Raj Thackeray, Jayant Patil, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar and Swabhimaani Shetkari Sanghatana’s Raju Shetti, among others.

The meeting assumes significance as the opposition parties are keen on putting up a united front before the BJP-Shiv Sena in the upcoming Assembly elections.

In a joint show of strength all opposition parties in the state, including the Congress, will take part in a march against the use of EVMs that is to be held on August 9 in Mumbai. Leaders said that apart from a discussion on the march, they also discussed ways of politically countering the BJP-Shiv Sena.

Interestingly the Congress as well as NCP is looking at accommodating Raj Thackeray’s MNS in the alliance. Thackeray is again set to lead the campaign against EVMs and will be meeting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee on August 1 to build support for a joint opposition campaign against EVMs.

Thackeray will also be holding deliberations with Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat who was absent for today’s meeting.
Meanwhile, desertions of senior leaders from the Congress-NCP remained unabated. Congress MLA from Wadala Kalidas Kolambkar formally resigned from the party on Monday. He is set to join the BJP.

Two Congress MLAs Bharat Bhalke from Pandharpur and Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre from Akkalkot stayed away from a meeting called by the party’s Solapur unit to interview prospective candidates for the upcoming assembly elections.

Bhalke had also held a meeting of his supporters in Pandharpur on Sunday to decide on his future course of action. There are indications that these two legislators are set to join the BJP.

Meanwhile, the NCP too is set to lose another senior leader with the Naik family in Navi Mumbai planning to shift their allegiance to the BJP. The Naiks have been a dominant political force in Navi Mumbai.

On Sunday 52 NCP corporators who hold allegiance to Ganesh Naik in a meeting unanimously voiced their support for switching over to the BJP. Ganesh Naik has served as a minister in the previous Congress-NCP government. He was, however, defeated in the 2014 Assembly elections which he had fought from Belapur. His son Sandeep Naik is an MLA from Airoli. Meanwhile, Jayant Patil said the BJP is using the fear of agencies to wean away opposition leaders to its side.

“The Shiv Sena and especially the BJP is after a lot of NCP leaders. They are using all means to wean away our leaders including pressurising them and invoking the fear of investigations by agencies. This is a point to ponder for all the voters as to why in spite of coming to power with such a thumping majority the BJP still needs Congress-NCP leaders in their ranks,” Patil said.

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