Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Bharat Bhalke passed away on Saturday at Pune's Ruby Hospital.
He was admitted for post-COVID complications and was kept on a ventilator since Friday. Bhalke was the MLA from Pandharpur-Mangalvedha Assembly constituency, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope expressed grief over Bhalke's demise.
"The news of the death of Bharat Bhalke, MLA of NCP's Pandharpur-Mangalvedha assembly constituency is very shocking. With his demise, an influential orator and dedicated leader passed away. I share the grief of the Bhalke family. A heartfelt tribute," the Maharashtra Minister tweeted.
Bhalke began his political career as a director of Vitthal Sahakari Sugar Factory in Pandharpur taluka. He later became the president of the factory.
In 2004, he contested assembly elections for the first time from Shiv Sena. However, he lost the election. After this, followed by the reorganization of the constituencies in 2009, he contested from Pandalpur-Mangalwedha assembly constituency and defeated former Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Singh Mohite Patil.
He left the Congress in 2019 and joined the NCP. In addition to 2009, Bhalke won the election in 2014 and 2019 as well, thereby scoring a hattrick.
(With inputs from ANI)