Former Nanded MP Bhaskar Patil Khatgaonkar quits BJP, joins Congress

Blow to BJP ahead of Maharashtra bypoll

October 17, 2021 05:20 pm | Updated October 18, 2021 12:03 am IST - Pune

Photo used for representational purpose only. File

Photo used for representational purpose only. File

In a major setback to the Bharatiya Janata Partyahead of the Deglur Assembly bypoll in Maharashtra’s Nanded district, former Nanded MP Bhaskar Patil Khatgaonkar, a relative of senior Congressman and Maharashtra Minister Ashok Chavan, on Sunday quit the BJP to rejoin the Congress.

Mr. Khatgaonkar, a former three-time MP, returned back to the Congress, which he had exited seven years ago along with former MLA Omprakash Pokarna.

The development comes as a jolt to the BJP before the Deglur Assembly byelection slated for October 30.

The bypoll, which is expected to be fiercely contested, had been necessitated following the death of Congress MLA Raosaheb Antapurkar due to COVID-19-related complications in April this year.

The ruling ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ coalition of the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has fielded the deceased MLA’s son, Jitesh Antapurkar, while the BJP has named Subhash Sabne, a former Shiv Sainik.

The Congress, particularly Ashok Chavan, is leaving no stone unturned to retain his party’s supremacy over the Deglur Assembly seat.

Mr. Khatgaonkar had quit the Congress in 2014 after being disgruntled with Mr. Chavan following the latter’s decision to field his wife Ameeta Chavan from the Bhokar Assembly constituency in Nanded ahead of the State Assembly election that year.

Mr. Khatgaonkar had to relinquish the seat before the 2014 parliamentary election to make way for Mr. Chavan, who eventually won the election. He had hoped Mr. Chavan would field him from the Bhokar seat in the Assembly elections held later that year as a quid pro quo – something which never transpired much to Mr. Khatgaonkar chagrin, who then defected to the BJP.

Commenting on his ‘homecoming’, Mr. Khatgaonkar said that he had buried the hatchet with Mr. Chavan and said that he was re-joining the Congress as he thought his followers were not getting justice in the BJP.

Welcoming Mr. Khatgaonkar, Mr. Chavan said that his presence would strengthen the Congress not just in Nanded district but in the Marathwada region as well.

Mr. Chavan, a former Maharashtra Chief Minister, had been defeated in his bastion Nanded by the BJP’s Prataprao Patil Chikhalikar during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The presence of Prakash Ambedkar’s votes-splitting Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) in the contest, which wooed some of the Dalit-Muslim votes away from the Congress, as well as Mr. Patil-Khatgaonkar’s defection to the BJP are said to have contributed to Mr. Chavan’s defeat at the time.

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