A new Narayan Rane factor in Maharashtra politics

Maharashtra politics is in ferment. With Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray firing salvos ever so often at the BJP which is his party’s alliance partner, the latter is preparing for the eventuality of the two parties snapping links. In that context, the resignation of former chief minister Narayan Rane from the Congress and his floating a new party Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha which will ostensibly support the BJP is a positive development for BJP.

Rane, the aggressive leader from the coastal Konkan region, who was earlier with Shiv Sena and then for 12 years with the Congress, feels cheated that the Congress did not fulfil the promise he claims it had made to him to make him chief minister when he was booted out from Sena by Bal Thackeray for expressing dissent over the then impending anointment of Uddhav as party president. Rane is not one to mince words and has already taken on Uddhav in a speech after leaving the Congress.

At the time of the recent expansion of the council of ministers at the Centre, the BJP had, it was rumoured, been in touch with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to cajole it into joining the Nationalist Democratic Front (NDA) but the arrangement did not come through. The idea was to have a ready alternative to the Shiv Sena. The Sena wanted more representation in the council of ministers which too was torpedoed.

The emergence of Rane as an ally of BJP in the State is a move to bolster the party in the face of Sena threats to quit the Maharashtra coalition. In any event, the BJP has seen how fruitful it was for it to have fought the last Assembly elections on its own without an alliance with Shiv Sena. The manner in which Uddhav Thackeray has been opposing the Modi government’s policies on most major issues while being in alliance with him is hardly a pleasing attitude for the BJP. It is all happening with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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