On a day when Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress rebels in Rajasthan were discussing 'homecoming' with their former party chief Rahul Gandhi, the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra hinted at the ‘gharwapsi’ of those legislators who had left the party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2019 assembly elections in the state. Further, the NCP also strongly denied media reports about the 12 of its legislators having joined the BJP.
Party spokesperson and Minister of Minority Affair Nawab Malik hit out against those spreading rumours of 12 NCP legislators crossing over to the BJP, terming them ‘‘baseless.’’
Malik told The Free Press Journal, ‘‘Some people are spreading rumours of 12 NCP MLAs joining the BJP. This is unfounded and fabricated news. Actually, those NCP legislators who joined the BJP before the assembly election, are keen to return to the party. However, so far no decision has been made yet. The information will be made public after a decision is taken, soon."
The NCP has 54 legislators, two less than the Shiv Sena, while the Congress strength is 44. In addition to this, the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government has the support of 18 legislators.
Malik’s statement comes days after the party’s state chief and Minister of Water Resources Jayant Patil had claimed that 14 to 15 BJP MLAs from the state were in touch with the Maha Vikas Aghadi, but the ruling alliance was not willing to commit the mistake of "poaching" opposition leaders. "It is not right to poach legislators. We don't intend to make that mistake. Our focus is on ensuring our government is sustained," he added.
Since the MVA government came to power, the NCP has been issuing clarifications that it sees not threat of a split. The party has also said the BJP will not succeed if it tries an ‘‘Operation Lotus’’ in Maharashtra, as it did in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
State Congress chief and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat too has said that the MVA government is stable and strong and will complete its five-year term.