Three-time NCP legislator Bharat Bhalke passes away due to post-COVID-19 complications

Three-time Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator from Solapur district, Bharat Bhalke, died at a private city-based hospital on Saturday while undergoing treatment for post-COVID-19 complications, said medical authorities.

According to sources, the MLA had tested positive on October 30, but was discharged after recovery. He was moved to Pune on November 9 after being diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

“He was re-admitted on November 9 after suffering from fever and cough…his condition deteriorated on Friday and he was on ventilator support,” said a hospital source.

Mr. Bhalke (60), was an MLA from the Pandharpur-Mangalvedha constituency in Solapur district. He, along with his political rival Sudhakar Paricharak was an influential figure in the regional politics of Solapur and that of the temple town area of Pandharpur-Mangalvedha.

Paricharak, too, had passed away three months ago following COVID-19 related complications. He was in his eighties.

A former wrestler, Mr. Bhalke had trounced Paricharak as an Independent in the 2009 Maharashtra Assembly elections, and again in the 2014 polls when contested on a Congress ticket. He had beaten his rival again in the election last year as well.

Like Mr. Bhalke, Paricharak, a four-time legislator, had frequently changed his political colours as well – winning the 1985 and the 1995 Assembly elections on a Congress ticket and the 1999 and 2004 polls as a member of the NCP. He had finally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the 2019 State Assembly polls.

Mr. Bhalke’s 2009 Assembly election triumph as a Left front-backed candidate was particularly notable as he had defeated former Deputy Chief Minister and sugar baron Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, an NCP stalwart.

A vocal advocate of the Maratha quota, Mr. Bhalke had resigned from the legislative Assembly in 2018 when he was a Congress MLA.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who had visited the Pune hospital on Friday evening where Mr. Bhalke was admitted to enquire about his health, expressed shock at the MLA’s death.

“The untimely demise of Bharat Bhalke is shocking. With his passing, we have lost an efficient and people-oriented leader from Pandharpur,” tweeted Mr. Pawar, expressing condolences to the Bhalke family.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 6:05:21 AM |

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