A day after former MP and Swabhimani Paksha leader Raju Shetti held a marathon meeting with NCP leader and former Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, there are murmurs of disapproval from within his own party over his decision to enter the Legislative Council on an NCP ticket. Senior leaders of the farmer’s outfit say Shetti should have allowed one of the party’s senior leaders to be nominated instead.
On Tuesday, Shetti, along with party leader Rajendra Dhavan Patil, had met Pawar at the latter’s home in Baramati. During the four-and-a-half-hour-long meeting, Pawar finalised the decision to nominate Shetti as the candidate for the upcoming Maharashtra Legislative Council polls.
Last week, NCP leader and state Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil had met Shetti and offered him the Legislative Council nomination from the NCP’s quota.
Shetti, who lost the Lok Sabha elections last year from Hatkanangale, had joined hands with the NCP and Congress to contest the assembly polls held a few months later. But the only party candidate who managed to win was Devendra Bhuyar from Morshi. Shetti’s right-hand man, Anil (Saukar) Madnaik, was defeated in Kolhapur’s Shirol constituency by Rajendra Patil Yedraokar, who had the active backing of NCP.
While Yedraokar is a minister in the state government now, Shetti was not even invited for the swearing-in of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government.
Over the last few months, Shetti has been increasingly sidelined by the state government, and the NCP’s decision to offer him a nomination to the Legislative Council is being seen as a move to placate the miffed leader. But the farmer leader’s decision to accept the nomination has not gone down well within his own party.
Speaking to The Indian Express, senior party leader Jalinder Patil said he and other leaders have been let down by the decision. “Both Anil Madnaik and I have been working for the last many years for the party and we felt that we should have been given the chance,” he said.
Swabhimani Paksha pointed out that Shetti has already served as a Lok Sabha MP twice, and he should have allowed other leaders a chance to serve in a legislative body. Patil said the matter should have been discussed in the political affairs committee of the party.
On whether the move will trigger dissent in the party, Patil said, “It’s an intra-party matter and we will try to resolve it ourselves,” he said.
This is not the first time that the farmer’s outfit is facing discontent over a power tussle, as senior leaders Ulhas Patil and Sadashiv Khot had left the party over similar issues. While Patil had joined Shiv Sena, Khot had floated his own outfit, Rayat Kranti Sanghtana, which is an ally of the opposition BJP.
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