MUMBAI: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane, who had recently resigned from the Congress, has announced the launch of a new party called ‘Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh’. The leader from Sindhudurg was given little choice in the matter with the BJP president Amit Shah rebuffing his moves to join the ruling party. He was instead asked to float a separate outfit and join the NDA.
But the chips are not really down for Rane and his political leverage will be determined by the number of legislators he can wean away from the Congress and even the Shiv Sena. Another factor that could go in his favour are the results of the local gram panchayat elections on October 16.
Many political observers, however, discount Rane’s clout in his pocket borough of Konkan, which includes the districts of Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Raigad, which has 15 assembly seats. Of these the BJP has just one. One part of the BJP strategy is to increase its footprint in these catchment areas; the other would be to use Rane’s front as a broadside against the Sena. ‘‘Rane will be the ‘B’ team of the BJP which will use him to attack the Sena,” pointed out Ashok Chavan, the president of the Maharahstra Pradesh Congress Committee.
But what is in it for Rane, who some political observers feel is now over the hill? The answer perhaps lies in his desperate attempt to carve out political space for his sons – his political heirs. However, Nawab Malik, the national spokesperson of the Nationalist Congress Party, is convinced that “Rane’s outfit is just a stand-by for the BJP. It is matter of time before the BJP metes out the same treatment to him as Waghela in Gujarat.”
Some Congressman opined that Rane is in a tearing hurry and which could be his undoing. “Rane is famished without power, he can’t sit still without it. For this reason, he was extremely frustrated in the Congress. The BJP has a hand on his raw nerve: they knew if he were to join them they would have had a hard time coping with his tantrums,’’ said a Congress leader who did not wish to be named.
Henceforth it will be an interesting battle of nerves between the BJP and Rane; he too needs the BJP to get into the legislative council. A senior leader said the next eight to nine months will be crucial for Rane. He will have to prove how many legislators he can break away from the Congress and the Sena. “Till then this arrangement suits us,” said the leader.
The Sena, meanwhile, refused to acknowledge Rane or take cognisance of his attack on their party. Sanjay Raut, Member of Parliament, simply said, “No comments.”