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Speculation about Congressman Rane’s defection to BJP renews

Published On : 03 Apr 2017   |  Reported By : Courtesy : The Hindu

Mumbai (The Hindu): This comes after BJP leader Jaykumar Rawal visited Mr. Rane at the latter’s residence on Sunday. Bharatiya Janata Party leader State Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal on Sunday conferred with Congress strongman Narayan Rane at the latter’s residence in Sindhudurg district, leading to avid speculation about Mr. Rane’s possible defection to the saffron party and setting political circles abuzz once again.

However, at the close of his hour-long meeting with Mr. Rawal, Mr. Rane quickly quashed any rumours of his planning to enter the BJP fold. What transpired between the two politicians remained nebulous, with Mr. Rane keenly downplaying Mr. Rawal’s visit as a “friendly one”.

“There is not the slightest possibility of me joining the BJP…he [Mr. Rawal] is a frequent visitor to my place,” he said, commenting that his rivals within the Congress were deliberately attempting to slander him with such baseless talk.

Mr. Rawal is on a tour of Sindhudurg district at present.

Rumours about Mr. Rane’s ‘defection’ flew thick and fast when it was alleged that Mr. Rane was in Delhi last week to ostensibly meet with top BJP leader Nitin Gadkari.

The once stalwart Shiv Sena strongman-turned-Congressman ruled his fiefdom of Kudal in Sindhudurg district which he held for six terms as MLA. He was trounced comprehensively by the Sena’s Vaibhav Naik in the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections.

Mr. Rane lost to Mr. Naik by a massive margin of more than 10,200 votes in a result which ultimately led to a Sena renaissance in the Konkan region. Despite Mr. Rane’s long shadow over the coastal Malwan belt, a surge of popular anger against his strong-arm tactics coupled with sanction to controversial ecological projects in verdant Sindhudurg led to his undoing.

Fallouts with his former aides-turned-nemesis, Rajan Teli and Ravindra Phatak, and bête noire Deepak Kesarkar [the Sena] further undercut his hold over the region.

Ever since his ignominious defeat and the steady erosion of the Congress in the recently concluded civic polls and Mr. Rane’s frequent clashes with local Congress leaders, political mills are running overtime with speculation about the Konkan strongman’s purported plans to defect either to the BJP or perhaps even return back to the Sena as its prodigal son.

However, Mr. Rane has thus far quelled such speculations, remarking that no Sena or BJP leader had ever been in touch with him nor had he ever considered joining either party.

“Politics doesn’t work this way…I have never expressed any interest in joining the BJP. If I wanted to do so, I would have made my intentions clear, never hidden them,” he told a Marathi television channel.


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