January 24, 2021 11:59:51 pm
Member of Legislative Council and NCP leader from Satara, Shashikant Shinde, has stirred a political storm with his revelation that the BJP had allegedly offered to pump Rs 100 crore for getting him elected from Koregaon assembly seat if he switched sides.
Shinde, however, told The Sunday Express that he was not offered money to join the BJP. “At an event in Satara on Saturday, I had said that the BJP was ready to spend Rs 100 crore to get me elected to the state assembly. I did not say that they had offered me Rs 100 crore to join the party,” he said.
“The offer had come before the 2019 assembly elections. BJP leaders contacted and urged me to join the party. They asked me to contest from Koregaon assembly seat and promised to spend whatever money was required to get me elected. They said even if Rs 100 crore was required, BJP will spend it to ensure his victory,” Shinde said.
Shinde added that the offer had come at a time when the saffron party was trying to rope in leaders from the NCP and the Congress in a bid to win the election. “The BJP had contacted several leaders. I was one of them. I was promised a ministerial berth if the party was re-elected to power. BJP leaders said they needed a strong face to represent the party in western Maharashtra and therefore they wanted me to join the party and contest on their ticket,” Shinde said.
He added that he rejected the offer as he was a “loyal soldier of the NCP”. Shinde said, “I believe in the policies and principles of the NCP and therefore I would not have joined the BJP at any cost.”
Shinde had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 assembly election from Koregaon seat on the NCP ticket. “Because I refused to join the BJP, they targeted me and went all out to ensure my defeat,” said Shinde. He was subsequently elected to the state’s upper House.
When contacted, BJP state spokesperson Keshav Upadhaye said, “No such offer was made to Shinde. It is a baseless claim… I think he is cracking a joke.”
Before the 2019 state elections, several senior leaders from the NCP and Congress had joined the BJP. Among them were Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil and Shivendraraje Bhosale, both represented the NCP in western Maharashtra. The BJP had also roped in top Congress leader Harshavardhan Patil.
Another NCP leader, Udayanraje Bhosale, too had joined the BJP after winning the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Satara as an NCP candidate. After resigning from the NCP, Bhosale had contested the Lok Sabha bypoll on a BJP ticket, but lost to NCP’s Srinivas Patil.
Meanwhile, BJP’s Satara MLA Shivendraraje Bhosale on Sunday met senior NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, triggering speculations at a time when the NCP has been claiming that several leaders from the BJP would soon join the party. However, Pawar said Bhosale met him in connection with the development works in his area. “When we were in the Opposition, I used to meet ministers regarding development works in my area,” he said.
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