As Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil quits from Assembly, other Cong rebels hesitate
After having stepped down as the leader of opposition in legislative assembly on April 25, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil yesterday tendered his resignation as the Congress member of the legislative assembly. However, it does seem that only Vikhe-Patil is more likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as rest of the rebel Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs are unlikely to join the BJP. Sources disclosed that the rest of the rebel Congress, NCP MLAs in touch with Vikhe-Patil are unsure about whether they will be able to contest the assembly elections on BJP ticket, given the possibility of their seats falling in the Shiv Sena quota as per the seat sharing pact with the BJP.
Prior to tendering his resignation as member of the lower house, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at Mantralaya. Thereafter accompanied by another rebel, expelled Congress MLA from Sillod (Aurangabad) Abdul Sattar, Vikhe-Patil met legislative assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade and submitted his resignation as member of the lower house. Speaking to newspersons later, he remarked “I did not even campaign for the party during the Lok Sabha elections. I do not doubt the party high command, they had given me the opportunity by making me the leader of opposition. I tried to do good work, but the situation made me resign”.
The situation for Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil became awkward after his son Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil joined the BJP and won the Jalgaon Lok Sabha seat in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections. Sattar on the other hand claimed that at least eight to 10 Congress MLAs are in touch with the BJP. He argued that the Congress rebels are disappointed with the Congress leadership in the state and their way of functioning. He accused the state Congress leadership of destroying the party in Maharashtra. Sources disclosed that Congress MLAs Rahul Bondre from Chikli (Buldhana district) and Bharat Bhalke from Pandharpur (Solapur) besides Sattar are in touch with the BJP leadership. Besides them Jeevankumar Gore NCP MLA from Tuljapur (Osmanabad) is also keen on joining the BJP.
Meanwhile, sources in the Sena disclosed that the party is miffed over BJP Minister for Medical Education Girish Mahajan insisting BJPs National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies to contest the 18 assembly seats allocated to them on the BJP ticket. The move comes days after senior BJP Minister for Revenue Chandrakant Patil had announced that the two ruling saffron allies had reached an agreement to contest 135 assembly seats each. But with Mahajan insisting that the NDA allies contest the ensuing assembly elections on BJP symbol has not just irked Sena, but also Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) leader and Minister for Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar.
Reacting to the remarks of Mahajan, Jankar flatly refused to buy the dictate arguing that although the RSP is an NDA ally the RSP is an independent party and will contest the ensuing assembly elections on its own symbol. Sources further disclosed that the Sena too is irked by Mahajans remarks arguing that besides the 135 seats if the 18 seats allocated to the NDA allies are added the BJP tally pushes to 153. Already the Sena is unhappy with the BJP allocating the same portfolio of Heavy Industries in the union cabinet. Add to that the rebel Congress MLAs are also apprehensive about whether Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will approve and allocate funds for works under MLA Funds in their constituencies with barely four months to go for the assembly elections.