Congress-NCP fear more defections in Maharashtra

The Congress-NCP is still recovering from the Lok Sabha elections debacle. Now, fear has gripped the alliance over defections in Maharashtra.

According to Indian Express, there are rumours indicating that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is set to accommodate former Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Radhakrisna Vikhe-Patil, and former NCP minister Jaidutt Kshirsagar in his Cabinet. Sources told the leading daily, that both the Congress and the NCP are taking measures to avoid further defections. A Congress leader told Indian Express, “We are holding district-wise meetings to keep our flock together.”

In the meanwhile, Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan has alleged that the BJP is using power to engineer a split in the party. “They (BJP) won’t succeed in their sinister plan. Our legislators are committed to the party’s ideology,” Chavan told the leading daily. Besides Vikhe-Patil, four other sitting Congress legislators — Kalidas Kolambkar, Nitesh Rane, Abdul Sattar and Jaykumar Gore — are in touch with the BJP’s state leadership, reported the leading daily.

In the meanwhile, the NCP president Sharad Pawar is personally taking stock of the situation. There are speculations going on that three more senior leaders, including two sitting legislators and a former minister, are planning to switch sides. This has rattled the NCP leadership. Last week, BJP minister Girish Mahajan had claimed that at least 25 MLAs of the Congress and the NCP were in touch with him. Responding to Mahajan, NCP state president Jayant Patil said, “Why does he (Mahajan) need to talk about it? They are simply trying to induce a false impression that the Opposition is splitting apart. But none of this is true.” Even Ashok Chavan hit out at Mahajan and said that it was his arrogance that made him make this claim.

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