Vikhe Patil to join BJP, many Congress MLAs likely follow suit
In-fighting, disgruntlement in the ranks and the bleak outing at the LS polls are pushing Cong leaders towards the BJP
After a dismal show in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, the Congress will see a host of its leaders switching over to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the October Assembly elections.
On Tuesday, former Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil resigned as Congress legislator to join the BJP. He had quit the Assembly post last month. Along with Vikhe Patil, another Congress MLA, Abdul Sattar, quit the lower house. He had quit the Congress during the Lok Sabha polls.
"I will join the BJP very soon," Vikhe Patil told media persons, adding that many Congress MLAs were in touch with him about joining the BJP. Vikhe Patil is likely to be made a minister when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reshuffles his Cabinet before the Monsoon Session of the state legislature this month. Vikhe Patil's induction should boost the BJP further in certain parts of western Maharashtra. He met Fadnavis on Tuesday, apparently to discuss the next course of action. One of the ministers, Girish Bapat, resigned from the post as he has been elected as MP from Pune.
An upset Vikhe Patil had made up his mind to quit the Congress when his son Sujay was denied a Lok Sabha ticket. Congress ally, Nationalist Congress Party's chief Sharad Pawar had taken a prolonged rivalry with the Vikhe Patils to another level by making unwarranted comments on Vikhe Patil's late father while refusing to part with the Ahmednagar seat.
The Congress high command had played spectator, forcing the Vikhe Patils to migrate. The son switched over to the BJP and won the Lok Sabha seat for the ruling party. The father defied the Congress by campaigning for his son, and quit as Opposition leader after the BJP registered a resounding win.
Many more to defect
Sattar had already quit the Congress and now teamed up with Vikhe Patil. He said on Tuesday that at least 10 more Congress MLAs would join the BJP soon.
According to information, some Congress MLAs who are on their way to the BJP are Jaikumar Gore (Man), Bharat Bhalke (Pandharpur) and Kalidas Kolamkar (Wadala). Most of them met Vikhe Patil on Tuesday. "We are disappointed with the Congress leadership in the state which is destroying the party," Sattar told media persons.
Vikhe Patil said the disgruntled Congress MLAs have been meeting him because they saw in him a negotiator who can secure their future in the BJP. "They are my supporters and trust me. They also know that I can speak to the BJP on their behalf."
The BJP and Sena are likely to share the 288 seats equally for the Assembly polls. The Congress and NCP too are in.
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