Naik, a heavyweight in Navi Mumbai politics, joined the BJP along with his supporters and family members.
“I have always worked for the people and not for my personal gains. I realised that many of my projects would become a reality only if there was a better leadership. I believe the Chief Minister and I can make Navi Mumbai shine even better than it does,” Naik said.
Minutes after Patil joined the party, Fadnavis said the BJP had been trying to rope him in for the last five years. “We will field him from Indapur seat,” the Chief Minister said at the function in Mumbai.
On Wednesday, Patil said that he took the decision to join the BJP as even Congress president Sonia Gandhi failed to find a solution to his issues. “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 added.
Patil said he had met NCP chief Sharad Pawar immediately after the Lok Sabha elections. “He said he will do something… Then I met Congress leaders Venugopal, Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil, but they all sounded helpless.”
After the meeting in Indapur, Patil became incommunicado to Congress and NCP leaders. “He was directly in touch with the chief minister, whom he invited for launching his book. He had made up his mind to join the BJP,” said an aide.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar said all attempts to reach out to Patil had failed. “I had told Patil I will honour whatever decision senior leaders of both 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… he is unnecessarily blaming NCP,” he said.
“I had personally gone to Patil’s residence in Pune, but he was not available. I must have made 50 calls to him… There are political differences but Patil should not spread falsehoods,” added Pawar.
Sule said they had received no proposal about the Indapur seat from the Congress. “I don’t understand why he quit Congress. He had problems with the NCP, but why is he quitting Congress? This is like having a fight with the brother-in-law but parting ways with the husband…,” she said.
Patil is a four-time MLA from Indapur. He was elected thrice as an Independent MLA and once on a Congress ticket. In the 2014 Assembly elections, when the Congress and NCP fought separately, NCP candidate Dattatray Bharne had defeated him.
Meanwhile, former Mumbai party chief Kripashankar Singh, who quit the Congress on Tuesday, is yet to officially join the BJP. —WITH ENS MUMBAI