Minutes after Harshavardhan Patil joined BJP, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the party was trying to rope him in for last five years. “And now that he has joined BJP, we will field him from Indapur seat,” the CM said.
His close aides said Harshavardhan Patil, a former minister, had made up his mind to join the BJP when he held a rally of his supporters in Indapur on September 5, ostensibly to elicit support from them on his decision to join the BJP. He received a resounding “yes” from his supporters.
At the meeting, Harshavardhan was effusive in his praise of the Chief Minister and minced no words in attacking NCP and the Pawar family. “Though I was not in power, the Chief Minister never rejected any request I made to him regarding development projects in Indapur,” he said. Patil said the CM for his sake had also postponed a meeting of the State cabinet to attend a function of his launch his book, Vidhan Gatha.”
Launching a scathing attack on the Pawars, Patil said he had gone all-out to help Supriya Sule win the Lok Sabha elections twice from Baramati. In return, he said he expected them to help him in assembly elections, but said they had no intention to do so. “They humiliated me…Enough of humilation, now I want justice,” he had said.
Patil later went incommunicado to the Congress and NCP leaders. He had switched off his cellphone and was apparently available to BJP leaders on phones of his close aides. “The former minister has switched off his for some days now,” a close aide told The Indian Express on Tuesday.
“He was directly in touch with the Chief Minister whom he had also invited for launching his book. Since then, he had made up his mind to join BJP,” his close associates said.
Reacting to allegations that he had made up his mind to join BJP, Patil said he took the decision as even Congress president Sonia Gandhi failed to find a solution. “After my rally in Indapur, Sonia Gandhi had called me up. She said she knew my problem… She said let me try.. But nothing happened, ” he said.
Patil said he had met NCP chief Sharad Pawar immediately after Lok Sabha elections but the meeting did not yield any results. “He said he will do something.. Then I met Congress leaders Venugopal, Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil, but they all sounded helpless, ” he said.
On Wednesday after Patil joined BJP, NCP’s Ajit Pawar in Baramati said all attempts to win him over failed.
“I had told Patil I will honour whatever decision senior leaders of both the parties take. After Patil held a rally earlier this month, I called him up several times, but his phone was switched off. Even Prithviraj Chavan urged him not to quit and told him that some solution could be worked out. But it seems Patil had already made up his mind to quit, but he is unnecessarily blaming the NCP,” he said.
Stating that he always lives up to his words, Pawar said,”I had personally gone to Patil’s residence in Pune, but he was not available. I must have made 50 calls to him…I showed this to Congress leaders. There are political differences, but Patil should not spread falsehoods.”
Senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan said that the party made several attempts to contact Patil, but his phone was switched off.
NCP MP Supriya Sule said they had received no proposal regarding Indapur seat from the Congress. “But I don’t understand why is he quitting Congress. He had problem with NCP, but why is he quitting the Congress ? This is like having fight with brother-in-law but parting ways with the husband…,” she said.