The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra has suffered a setback, with the son of senior leader Vijaysinh Mohite Patil joining the BJP at a time when the party leadership is trying to keep its flock together.
Ranjitsinh Mohite Patil, a former Rajya Sabha member, said he quit the party because a water project launched by his father was allegedly ignored by the previous Congress-NCP government. The BJP has declared that it is now trying to draw his father into its fold.
"Now the question is of Vijaysinh Mohite Patil. Ranjitsinh has come into our party with his father's blessings, and talks are on with his father now," Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told BJP workers after inducting Ranjitsinh Mohite Patil at a public rally on Wednesday.
Vijaysinh Mohite Patil's possible acceptance of the BJP offer will come as a big blow to the NCP because he had won Madha seat by over 35,000 votes even at the peak of the Modi wave in 2014.
The Sharad Pawar-led NCP, however, shrugged off Ranjitsinh Mohite Patil's move. "It will not impact us. Only he knows why he decided to switch sides," a party leader said.
The former Rajya Sabha member said he chose the BJP because his father's water project gained traction under its governance. "Although the Congress-NCP government did little, the project began moving forward under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari," he told NDTV.
The NCP isn't the only partner in the opposition alliance to lose influential leaders to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Sujay Vikhe Singh, a top Congress leader's son, had joined the ruling party last week.
The Congress-NCP alliance is also likely to be hit by Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar's decision to go solo and the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samajwadi Party combine's rejection of its invitation to join hands for the polls. Muslims and Scheduled Caste members constitute 26% of the state's total vote share.
The Congress has decided to retain 26 of the state's 48 seats for the Lok Sabha elections, leaving just 22 for its electoral ally. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had won 41 seats in the 2014 polls.
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