After maintaining a studied silence for days, the Congress in Maharashtra on Tuesday moved to pacify its sulking leader Narayan Rane, who reportedly met BJP President Amit Shah in Ahmedabad last week.
The 64-year-old former Chief Minister and his MLA-son Nitesh were spotted with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during his Ahmedabad visit. There were reports that Rane had met Shah and he was headed towards the BJP camp.
However, the Shivsainik-turned-Congressman denied he was joining the BJP, but maintained he was unhappy with the Congress. He also denied meeting Fadnavis in Ahmedabad. The Congress has so far refrained from speaking on the Rane issue.
However, today two of its leaders - former minister Arif Mohammed Naseem Khan and ex-Lok Sabha MP Milind Deora - met Rane at his office in South Mumbai.
Congress sources said the two leaders met Rane, who is an MLC, on the directives of the party's central leadership.
Khan and Deora sought to know Rane's grievances against the party, they said. Rane told them nothing is being done to strengthen the party organisation in Maharashtra, where the BJP came to power in 2014 after ending the 15-year-old rule of Congress-NCP alliance, the sources said.
Since then the saffron outfit has won a string of local body elections in Maharashtra, which was once a Congress bastion.
Rane lost the 2014 Assembly polls from Kudal in Sindhudurg district, his home turf, while his son Nilesh was defeated from the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat in the Lok Sabha elections held the same year.
Rane made an attempt to enter the Assembly in April 2015 in a by-election from Bandra (East) but lost to the Shiv Sena. He was later rehabilitated in the Legislative Council.