Mumbai: Making almost identical statements about the reasons for leaving their parties, four senior Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislators handed over their resignations to Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade.
The MLAs Shivendra Raje Bhosale, Vaibhav Madhukar Pichad, Kalidas Kolambkar and Sandeep Ganesh Naik will join the BJP in a special event on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister Girish Mahajan has claimed that many more senior leaders from the Congress and NCP are slated to enter the BJP by the end of this week.
“You have seen some of the stalwart leaders of the Congress and NCP tender their resignations. They will be inducted in our party on Wednesday. Over 50 MLAs from these two parties are in touch with us. By the end of this week, you will see some more of them joining our camp. This will go on till the Vidhan Sabha elections. I had earlier predicted that the Congress-NCP combine won’t get more than 50 seats this time. But now, I feel their total seat tally won’t be above 40,” Mahajan told News18.
Bhosale is a former NCP MLA from Satara, while Pichad is an ex-NCP legislator from Akole and son of a close aide of party founder Sharad Pawar. Kolambkar has represented Congress from the Wadala constituency in Mumbai several times, while Naik too is a former NCP MLA and son of another close aide of Pawar.
The resignations came within a week after Mumbai NCP women’s wing president Chitra Wagh declared her decision to join the BJP, following Mumbai NCP president Sachin Ahir’s switchover to the Shiv Sena.
Bhosale told News18, “My issues are constituency-based. I am not leaving the NCP for any other reason. People elect a representative for sorting out their core issues that affect the constituencies for years. In my constituency, such issues have remained pending. In these five years, since I was in the opposition, I couldn’t get them resolved. The political scenario had changed drastically in the state. If I have to fulfill my voters’ demands, I have to be with the government. Medical college issue is an important issue for Satarkars, municipal limit expansion is another issue. Javali taluka, rural taluka… we need to get approval for the Gonjarwadi dam. It can provide drinking water and water for agriculture. When we were in power, those issues were sorted out. Ajitdada (Ajit Pawar) was the most helpful person. I have been with NCP for 15 years now. My father was in politics for 35-40 years. But now, if you want to keep your constituency happy, then this is the way.”
“Both the Congress and NCP have almost gone into a dormant state since the Lok Sabha elections. We are still young and want to work for our constituency. As an MLA, I can do roads and build other things, but that is not what is going to keep me in people’s minds. The core issues need to be sorted out. That’s why I need to be in power.”
When asked if he had met Sharad Pawar to convey the decision, he said he had given the party an idea about his exit. “I had met Pawar Saaheb. Whatever problems I am facing, I put them in front of him. But the development of my constituency is a more of a pressing issue for me. I haven’t kept the party in dark. I didn’t ask for a ticket in the party. So they had an idea,” he said.
Kolambkar, who left the Congress after being with the party for 10 years, said he was upset for a long time and felt dejected.
“I am an MLA since 1990. From the time I entered the Congress, I worked for the party. My political birth is because of Balasaheb Thackeraỵ I was with the Shiv Sena earlier. I gave my 10 years to the Congress. But none of my works got done. So I am upset with the party. That is why I have decided to join hands with (Chief Minister) Devendra Fadnavis. He is a hardworking man and stays true to his promise. That's why I have decided to join them now. Congress leaders had approached me recently, trying to convince me to not leave them. But when I sought a position in the party, I wasn’t given one. If they don’t respect such senior leaders, why should I stay in the Congress? Give me one reason,” he said.
He predicted that the political situation in Maharashtra during the upcoming elections to be “very good”. “People vote only for those who deliver. People want hardworking politicians. We will get 80 per cent of the seats,” he said.
Sandeep Naik, son of Ganesh Naik, also gave his resignation as NCP MLA from Navi Mumbai. However, his father considered very close to Pawar, stayed away from Tuesday’s event. BJP sources had earlier claimed that the senior Naik was also slated to switch camps, but hasn’t happened yet.
When asked about the reasons for joining the saffron camp, Sandeep said, “Navi Mumbai’s progress should happen properly. The way the CM has been keen on rapid development of the state, I am sure he will focus on Navi Mumbai as well. Our pending issues should also get cleared. Pawar saaheb gave us a lot of love. Whenever we have taken up any issues with him, he has tried to resolve them. But now, we need a vision for the development of Navi Mumbai. That vision is with Devendra Fadnavis. What political position I choose is immaterial.”
When asked about his father, Sandeep said, “My family has given me the right to take a call for myself, I can’t say anything about them.”
Another NCP stalwart, who is known to be very close to Sharad Pawar and was one of the founding members is Madhukar Pichad. His son and Akole MLA Vaibhav Pichad submitted his resignation to the speaker on Tuesday.
He and his father will join the BJP on Wednesday. “I haven’t talked to Pawar saaheb. But I haven’t been getting development fund for my constituency for the last few years. All the works are incomplete. Road and irrigation issues are pending. My constituency, my workers have put pressure on me to join the BJP. Because of them, I have decided to join the party,” Vaibhav told News18.
When asked about Pawar’s allegations that the BJP was forcing NCP MLAs to switch camps by threatening them of action with the help of Central agencies, he refused the claims.
“I don’t have any inquiry pending against me. I don’t even have an FIR against me. My constituency’s development work is pending. This decision has been very difficult for my father. We are thankful to Pawar Saaheb for his love,” he said.