Published On : Fri, Mar 2nd, 2018

BJP offers Rajya Sabha candidature to former Maharashtra CM Narayan Rane

Congress leader Narayan Rane

Congress Leader Narayan Rane (File Pic)

Mumbai: Former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane, who left the Congress a few months ago, was offered Rajya Sabha candidature by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), at a meeting held in New Delhi on Wednesday night. Rane has sought time to decide on the offer.

Rane, who was hoping to be inducted in the state Cabinet, is said to have been briefed about why it was tough for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to appoint him as minister. Rane, Fadnavis and Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar were present at the meeting called by BJP national president Amit Shah.

Rane quit the in September 2017 after a fallout with the Congress leadership. Since then, he has floated his own political outfit, called the Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh (MSP), and has joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after he is said to have been assured a Cabinet berth in the Fadnavis government.

However, the BJP leadership kept him waiting for five months, prompting Rane to express his resentment openly over the delay and stating that his patience was being tested.

“I was called by the BJP president to ask about my commitment towards the BJP and the conditions for the elections scheduled in 2019. I was also offered Rajya Sabha candidature as CM Fadnavis has been facing a few issues over my induction in the state Cabinet, which is leading to the delay. My reply to him was that I need some time to deliberate and decide,” Rane said.

“Fadnavis’ reasons are genuine, from the BJP’s point of view, and he should be given some time to resolve them,” Rane added.

The Shiv Sena, the BJP’s ally in the state and at the Centre, is strongly opposed to Rane’s induction in the Cabinet. Once a senior Sena leader, Rane left the party after strong differences with Uddhav Thackeray. When he quit the Sena, he took along with him a group of MLAs and was vocal in his criticism of Thackeray’s leadership.

A prominent Maratha leader, Rane wields influence in Sindhudurg district in Konkan region and also has pockets of influence in several places across the state, including Mumbai.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently declared elections for 58 Rajya Sabha seats, to be held on March 23. Of these, six seats are from Maharashtra — the Congress’ Rajeev Shukla and Rajani Patil, the NCP’s DP Tripathi and Vandana Chavan, the BJP’s Ajaykumar Sancheti and the Sena’s Anil Desai are retiring from the upper House. Going by the current strength of parties in the Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP can win three seats, while the Sena, Congress and NCP can win one each.

State BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said: “Rane is now an ally of the NDA, and the BJP president can discuss current political issues with him. The decision on Rajya Sabha candidates will be taken by the central parliamentary board, in consultation with the chief minister and state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve.”