A staunch supporter of Pawar, Lande, who decided to put in his papers when Pawar resigned, said that he would be rewarded for his loyalty towards Pawar.
A former mayor of Pimpri-Chinchwad and a second time MLA, Lande had missed the opportunity to become a minister in the state government in 2009. At that time, Congress leaders had promised him a ministerial berth, but ended up giving him the chairmanship of the Pimpri-Chinchwad New Township Development Authority.
Upset over the decision of the Congress Party, Lande, an NCP rebel, once again backed NCP and became a loyalist of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar.
“Although I am not expecting the ministerial berth, I have always been loyal to Dada (Ajit Pawar) and whatever decision he would take I would accept it,” Lande said yesterday.
Sources said that Lande’s name was high up in the shortlist of those who could get a ministerial berth when the time for an expansion comes.
Upset by such speculation, NCP MLA from Pimpri, Anna Bansode, said that such names would keep coming up but the final decision would always be taken by Pawar.
“The decision has not yet been taken in the party on who should get a ministerial berth,” Bansode said. “I am the party’s official member and I didn’t even rebel. However, I am satisfied with whatever I have got in the party.”
An Independent MLA, Laxman Jagtap, said that there were strong chances of Lande getting the ministerial berth as he was the “leader” of all Independent MLAs who supported Ajit Pawar when he resigned.
“The ministerial berths are given as per the current political conditions and aspects like seniority, loyalty and abilities are kept aside,” Jagtap said.