Mumbai, (The Hindu): BJP president Amit Shah did not offer a State Cabinet berth to Congress rebel and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane during their meeting in New Delhi on Monday, sources close to Mr. Rane said. It was widely expected that he would be inducted into the BJP, but with nothing forthcoming from Mr. Shah, it seems more and more likely that Mr. Rane will be forming his own party.
Sources said Mr. Rane, who quit the Congress six days ago, had sought a ministerial berth in the State government as a precondition to joining the BJP. They said the meeting with Mr. Shah was to seek assurance on this. BJP State unit chief Raosaheb Danve, who was present at the meeting, said politics remained off the agenda.
On Tuesday, Mr. Shah met senior RSS leader Bhaiyyaji Joshi in Mumbai. After the meeting, Mr. Joshi said that the decision to induct Mr. Rane into the BJP is a party decision, and not the RSS’s. “We cannot divulge all details as many issues are not supposed to be discussed openly,” he said.
A lobby within the BJP considers Mr. Rane a political liability, says political analyst Dr. Surendra Jondhale. “If Mr. Rane decides to launch his own party, it will only marginalise him as the leader of a single district. He may have connections across the State, but his actual political strength is limited to Konkan, that too to just one or two districts.”
Dr. Jondhale added the BJP may keep him waiting for the next few months, while analysing the impact of his probable induction on the Shiv Sena and the Opposition. “He will have to show his strength in the gram panchayat polls. It is likely that BJP made a pre-condition that he quits Congress first and only then the party will think about his inclusion. It is likely to marginalise him further in state politics," he said.
Sources in the BJP said the party wants Mr. Rane to form an independent front, much like Shankarsinh Vaghela did in Gujarat after quitting the Congress. A new political party in Konkan, where the BJP doesn’t have much reach, would present a challenge to the Shiv Sena and the Congress. In the rest of the State, Mr Rane’s new party would have a tacit understanding with the BJP, and could dent the Congress’s poll fortunes.
With Mr. Shah choosing to not make the first move, the Rane camp appears to have gone into a huddle; Mr. Rane and his sons, Nitesh and Nilesh, have not commented on the meeting’s outcome. Nitesh, his younger son and a Congress MLA, is yet to resign from the party. Though he had said he would if needed, the possibility is looking somewhat distant in the current political situation.
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