NCP chief Sharad Pawar has accused the BJP and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of grabbing and threatening the Congress-NCP legislators. Swiftly reacting to these allegations, CM Fadnavis retaliated that BJP never indulged in politics of pressure. CM said that we don’t need to invite or chase anyone, people are approaching us. He asked Sharad Pawar to introspect within his party.
It is worth mentioning that currently, the BJP is the strongest party in India at the Centre and as well as in Maharashtra. That is why many opposition leaders are making bee-line to join the party. In neighbouring Karnataka, 16 MLAs of the Congress-JD(S) resigned. After this, the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition government collapsed and it paved the way of a BJP government led by BS Yeddyurappa in Karnataka. Similarly, in Goa, 10 of 15 Congress MLA defected in mass and joined the BJP. Maharashtra Assembly elections are due in October-November. The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will face the Congress-NCP alliance to return to power. The BJP-Sena won 41 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state in the recent general elections and their moral is very high.
Political Analyst Abdul Wahab told Afternoon Voice, “All political parties are engaged in the preparation of the state Assembly elections. Politicians switching sides is the game plan of this. At present, the BJP has emerged as a very strong party, which is in power at the Centre and in the state too. After Karnataka episode, the Congress and regional parties are afraid of the BJP. Just before elections even established leaders ensure their workers and supporters must be with them. This is the main reason behind party-switching. But it is not healthy for democracy. All strong and weak political parties must exist together.”
Within a week, the NCP suffered multiple jolts as senior leaders Sachin Ahir, Chitra Wagh and Vaibhav Pichad quit the party. NCP leader Sandeep Naik is also ready to quit the party. Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan on Sunday claimed that at least 50 MLAs of the Congress and NCP were in touch with the ruling BJP to switch their loyalty ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections. “Some 50 MLAs of Congress and NCP are in touch with the BJP. Senior NCP leader Chitra Wagh had expressed her desire to join BJP a month back, claiming she had no future left in her parent party. The MLAs are requesting that they wanted to join the BJP ahead of the assembly elections. The Congress is in the shambles and in the next couple of weeks, the NCP will look weaker,” Mahajan said.
Nawab Malik of the NCP said, “The BJP does not have broad base in Maharashtra. So, they are taking the help of other parties. At the same time, the NCP has a presence at grassroot level. If the BJP thinks that the NCP has weakend after some leaders quit the party, it is not true. There will be no difference due to this. We have many strong leaders. At the same time, misconducts and sins of the BJP came to the fore. Neither retaliation by CM nor the statement of Girish Mahajan can cover it.”
On Sunday, CM Fadnavis said, “A lot of NCP and Congress legislators are willing to join BJP but we will only induct selected few in the party. The people, against whom ED or any other inquiry is ongoing, will not be inducted in the party. We do not want to invite anyone or run behind anyone, people are themselves coming to BJP.” Fadnavis also rejected Pawar’s accusation of BJP misusing probe agencies for threatening politicians. He said that in the last five years, a lot of troubled sugar factories have been helped by the government and state bank. The list is long but in return of the same no one was asked to join the party. Pawar Saheb must introspect within his party.
“Central Government is misusing their power before elections (Maharashtra), pressuring those leaders who are not willing to join BJP. This is not limited to Maharashtra, it has happened everywhere. Maharashtra Chief Minister and his cabinet ministers have been involved in calling many leaders. On the other side, we are getting complaints from many that some agencies are being used like ED, CBI and state government’s ACB. These agencies are being used to threaten the public representatives,” Pawar said. He claimed that Chitra Wagh was under pressure to leave the party after a probe by the ACB against her husband. “Wagh met me two days ago and said she is under tremendous pressure as there are some criminal cases against her husband. In addition to that, an ACB inquiry has been initiated against their cooperative institutions she runs,” said Pawar. On the other hand, Chitra Wagh said that there is no future in the NCP and she is going to join the BJP.
The CM said the BJP did not need to pressurise anybody to join. “We are beyond running behind anyone. Now people [leaders] run behind the BJP. We will take care of those who are good and work for the people,” he said.
This row comes days after many NCP leaders quit the party to either join the BJP or its ally, the Shiv Sena. Last week, former NCP Mumbai chief Sachin Ahir joined the Sena while NCP women’s unit head Chitra Wagh quit the party and is likely to join the BJP along with another NCP legislator from Ahmednagar, Vaibhav Pichad. Akole MLA Vaibhav Pichad also announced on Saturday that he was going to join the ruling BJP. Vaibhav is son of senior NCP leader and former state minister Madhukar Pichad. Two days ago, the NCP’s Mumbai unit chief Sachin Ahir joined the Shiv Sena, a ruling alliance partner.
Vaibhav Pichad said that he had organised a meeting of his followers at Akole in Ahmednagar district on Saturday to gauge their opinion. Most of his supporters wanted him to join the BJP, he said. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured him that he would get all help to solve the problems of his constituency, he said. “Very soon I will formally join the Bharatiya Janata Party,” he said.
Girish Mahajan also dimissed Pawar’s allegations that the BJP was misusing the government agencies against the Opposition leaders for politcal gains. “He (Pawar) is levelling these allegations to cover up his own political failure. We have not threatened any one or pressurised any leader,” he said.