Other States

It’s up to BJP’s Khadse to decide on joining NCP: Pawar

Commenting on the widespread speculation of estranged senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Eknath Khadse defecting to his party, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said that while Mr. Khadse's contribution to establishing the BJP in Maharashtra was immense, it was ultimately up to him to take a decision whether or not to join the NCP or any other party in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

Mr. Pawar went on to say that Mr. Khadse was regarded as the most influential Opposition leader in the State in the last 25 years.

“Whether as Leader of the Opposition [in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly] or as the former State Revenue Minister, we have seen Mr. Khadse’s accomplishments and his contribution and are well aware of his capabilities. However, any political decision that he wishes to take [possible defection] is ultimately up to him,” said Mr. Pawar in Osmanabad.

While remaining ostensibly non-committal about Mr. Khadse’s entry into the NCP fold, Mr. Pawar nevertheless dropped subtle hints in his pointed remarks.

‘Influential Opposition leader’

“Despite being considered an influential Opposition leader in Maharashtra’s politics for more than two decades, Mr. Khadse has not been given his due. As his contribution has passed unnoticed, he may be considering joining a particular party where his work will be recognized. So, if he believes in our party [NCP], then nothing can be done [stopping him from entering the NCP],” he stated.

A little over a week ago, Shiv Sena leader and Minister Gulabrao Patil claimed that Mr. Khadse would be changing his political colours soon and made the remark that he was not aware of which party the BJP leader would eventually join nor of whom he was in touch with.

Shiv Sena’s attempts

Since the past few days, rumours have been swirling thick and fast that Mr. Khadse would be entering the NCP fold. Shiv Sena leaders like Abdul Sattar, Uday Samant and Mr. Patil have been actively courting Mr. Khadse, a stalwart leader from north Maharashtra, to join their party.

After being denied a ticket in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls and following the defeat of his daughter, Rohini Khadse, in the election, Mr. Khadse has been vocal about his disenchantment with his party.

Since the conclusion of the Assembly polls, a major schism has emerged within the Maharashtra BJP leadership with the top brass fearing a possible intra-party revolt by its notable OBC leaders led by Mr. Khadse, former Ministers Pankaja Munde and Prakash Mehta and other leaders who were either denied ticket or suffered upset defeats in the election.

Upset wit Fadnavis

Mr. Khadse was reportedly upset with the then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP’s leader in the State, for the latter’s ‘authoritarian style’ of running the party and eliminating his potential ‘rivals’ in a ‘Machiavellian fashion’.

At the time, the OBC leaders blamed Mr. Fadnavis for engineering their defeats and denying them ticket.

Mr. Khadse has consistently maintained that there had been a ‘conspiracy’ by certain leaders in the State BJP unit to ensure the defeats of Ms. Munde and his daughter, and that the move was aimed at finishing off his political career.

Since then, rumours have been circulating of his potential defection to either the Sena or the NCP.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 7:07:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/its-up-to-bjps-khadse-to-decide-on-joining-ncp-pawar/article32892001.ece

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