A legislature from Maharashtra, Bharat Bhalke of the NCP, died on Saturday morning while undergoing treatment for post-Covid complications. The 60-year-old was a three-term MLA from Pandharpur-Mangalvedha constituency in Solapur, and had tested positive for the novel coronavirus on October 30. He had returned home after recovery from the infection, but was readmitted to a Pune hospital on November 9 after fever and cough. He was diagnosed as suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). After his condition worsened, he was put on ventilator.
On Friday evening, NCP president Sharad Pawar visited the private hospital to inquire about his health. Bhalke’s last rites were performed at his native Sarkoli village in Pandharpur. He is survived by his wife and four children. About his demise, Pawar said the Pandharpur taluka had lost an efficient and a people-friendly leader.”
A former wrestler, Bhalke first won an Assembly poll in 2009 as a Left front nominee, defeating NCP’s former deputy chief minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil.
In 2014, when Congress and NCP contested independently, he joined the Congress camp just before the polls, going on to retain his seat. In 2019, he hopped onto the NCP camp to script a hat-trick. While contesting as an alliance, both NCP and Congress fielded candidates in Pandharpur. Bhalke defeated five-time MLA Sudhakar Paricharak, who was contesting on a BJP ticket. In August, Paricharak, 85, also died of post-Covid complications.
In 2018, when Bhalke was with the Congress, he had adopted a determined stance over the demand for Maratha reservation, resigning from his membership of the legislative assembly.
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