IN A major jolt to the NCP, Udayanraje Bhosale, its Satara MP and the 13th direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, is set to join the BJP on Saturday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.
One of the four sitting NCP MPs from Maharashtra, Bhosale would be the first to quit the party, which has been wrecked with desertions in the last two months. While terming the development “good riddance”, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP said that Bhosale was at the root of all problems within the party’s Satara unit.
“I received inspiration to carry out social work based on the love and blessings of you all. Hoping the same love and blessings will be there forever with me,” Bhosale tweeted on Friday while posting a poster of the details of his induction ceremony into the BJP on Saturday. According to it, Bhosale is set to join the party in the presence of the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah.
It will be a proverbial homecoming for Bhosale who had won his first election on a BJP ticket in 1998. He subsequently went on to serve as a minister in the BJP-Shiv Sena government. A fallout with the BJP saw him joining the NCP and he went on to represent Satara thrice since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections on a NCP ticket.
With the Congress-NCP’s fortunes falling, Bhosale had been contemplating a switch for the last few months.
A decline in his winning margin in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections had set off alarms bells ringing for Bhosale, who as the direct descendant of the Maratha warrior king, draws immense clout in his constituency. In the elections, Bhosale had won by a margin of around 1,30,000 votes — significantly lower than his 2014 margin of about 3,66,000 votes. Following the slide, he had raised doubts about EVMs.
Immediately after the polls, he had offered to resign and sought re-election through ballot system. Bhosale then took to criticising the previous Congress-NCP government, accusing it of creating “obstacles” in the progress of his constituency. On Wednesday, Bhosale had met Sharad Pawar and it was speculated that he had decided against quitting the NCP. However, sources said he met Pawar to seek his blessings and thank him for his support during his time in the party. Bhosale will resign as MP and seek re-election, his close aide Milind Gaiwkad said. “Udayanraje will fly to Delhi from Pune, accompanied by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a chartered plan… He will submit his resignation to the Lok Sabha Speaker,” he added.
Meanwhile, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik underplayed Bhosale’s exit. “It’s good riddance for us. Henceforth, there will be no trouble in our Satara unit… he was at the centre of all troubles afflicting the party in Satara district,” he said. Sources said the delay in Bhosale joining the BJP was caused due to several conditions he set, including his insistence on joining the party in the presence of the Prime Minister.
BJP leaders said Bhosale’s entry will strengthen the party not just in Satara but across Maharashtra. “His entry will help the party consolidate Maratha votes. Since he is Shivaji’s direct descendant, he commands immense respect among the people in Maharashtra,” a leader said.