This Article is From Oct 01, 2019

Advantage BJP As Four More Opposition Leaders Cross Over In Maharashtra

Two Congress leaders and an NCP politician were among those who decided to pitch in with the ruling party.

Advantage BJP As Four More Opposition Leaders Cross Over In Maharashtra

Gopichand Padalkar, who joined the BJP today, called Devendra Fadnavis "God's gift to Maharashtra".

Mumbai:

The Maharashtra assembly elections are just around the corner, but the flow of political leaders from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to the BJP continues unabated.

Kashiram Pawara and Gopaldas Agrawal, the Congress MLAs from Shirpur and Gondia respectively, joined the BJP on Monday - becoming only the latest in a long list of deserters from the party since the Lok Sabha elections handed the BJP-Shiv Sena combine a rousing victory earlier this year. Accompanying them was the NCP's Namita Mundada, who crossed over to the BJP in the presence of state minister Pankaja Munde and party MP Pritam Munde.

Incidentally, Ms Mundada jumped ship just weeks after NCP chief Sharad Pawar projected her as the party candidate from Kaij constituency in Beed. The veteran leader will have to find a replacement for her soon, given that the last date for filing nominations is October 4.

The Maharashtra elections will be held on October 21, with the results emerging three days later.

Prakesh Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) also lost a leader to the BJP, with Gopichand Padalkar joining the party in Mumbai on Monday morning. The BJP is likely to field him from Baramati, regarded as a stronghold of the Pawar family.

Although Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit had won from Baramati in the 2014 assembly elections, there is some confusion over who will be fielded by the NCP this time. While Ajit Pawar is expected to contest the polls this time too, the delay in declaring his name has led to some speculation.

Incidentally, Ajit Pawar had resigned as MLA on Friday and gone incommunicado for a while after his name cropped up in an alleged bank scam. He resurfaced the next day.   

Welcoming him into the party, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis likened Gopichand Padalkar to a "tiger" with the potential to bring down a veritable Goliath. "If he is ready, I will field him from the Baramati assembly seat," he said.

Gopichand Padalkar, in turn, showered praises on the Chief Minister. "I believe Devendra Fadnavis is God's gift to Maharashtra. He has given Maharashtra direction. You have fulfilled 70 per cent of our demands, and we are confident that you will fulfil the remaining 30 per cent soon," he said.

The BJP is banking on the Dhangar leader to do well in Baramati constituency because it has a sizeable population from his community.

"Several leaders told me that only the BJP has the ability and resolve to fulfil Maharashtra's demands. I am joining the BJP because I have faith that only it can deliver. This party inspires people and anybody it backs can become an MLA today," Gopichand Padalkar said.