Mumbai, April 10 (IANS) As the first phase of polling gets underway in Maharashtra’s seven Lok Sabha constituencies, the opposition Congress and NCP brace for anticipated departure of two top sulking leaders to the ruling BJP, sources said here on Wednesday.
Congress’ Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s former Deputy Chief Minister Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil are preparing to quit and join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shortly.
Gleeful BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, have been hinting at some big time “incomings” — both prominent individuals and those from major political clans — to the party fold as the elections approach.
Both — Vikhe-Patil of Ahmednagar and Mohite-Patil of Solapur — hail from well-entrenched political families in western Maharashtra and have been assets to their parties since long.
They are likely to join the BJP in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his election tours here in the next few days.
When contacted by IANS, spokespersons of both Congress and NCP declined to say anything on the developments, claiming their respective party high commands would comment on these matter at the appropriate time.
Their decisions have reportedly been spurred after their sons — Sujay Vikhe-Patil and Ranjitsinh Mohite-Patil, both third generations — joined the BJP after they were denied tickets by the Congress-NCP alliance.
In a double whammy, even Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil was overlooked for a renomination for the seat which has now gone to another local bigwig, Sanjay Shinde.
Though Sujay was accommodated with a ticket by the BJP for Ahmednagar Lok Sabha seat, Ranjitsinh lost out to a member of a royal clan, Ranjitsinh Naik-Nimbalkar.
Nevertheless, the BJP has assured Ranjitsinh Vikhe-Patil of his pound of flesh by accommodating him in the state legislature later.
Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil has kept a studious silence and not displayed signs of open rebellion, amidst indications that the Mohite-Patils were “cut to size” in the NCP intra-party power struggle vis-A-vis Ajit Pawar.
Howevet, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil has been bitterly vocal about the developments leading to son Sujay’s defection to the BJP, and he has even refused to campaign against his son and for Sangram Jagtap, the NCP candidate in Ahmednagar.