Mumbai: Senior BJP leader and Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan has claimed that at least 50 MLAs of the Congress and the NCP were in touch with the ruling party to switch over ahead of the Assembly elections later this year. (Also read: Mumbai NCP Chief Joins Shiv Sena)
This comes at a time when NCP chief Sharad Pawar had made similar allegations against the BJP and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had asked the former to introspect instead of making such claims. He had also said that his party wouldn’t chase after others to join them.
Also, many leaders from the NCP have deserted the party in the recent past. “Some 50 MLAs of Congress and NCP are in touch with the BJP. Senior NCP leader Chitra Wagh had expressed her desire to join BJP a month back, claiming she had no future left in her parent party. The MLAs are requesting that they wanted to join the BJP ahead of the assembly elections … The Congress is in a shambles and in the next couple of weeks, the NCP will look weaker,” Mahajan said on Sunday.
Mumbai NCP chief Sachin Ahir and women wing president Chitra Wagh have quit the party. Ahir has already joined the Shiv Sena. NCP MLA Vaibhav Pichad has also expressed his desire to join the BJP.
Meanwhile, Mahajan rubbished Sharad Pawar’s allegations that the BJP was misusing government agencies against the leaders of the Congress and the NCP to make them defect. “He (Pawar) is levelling these allegations to cover up his own political failure. We have not threatened anyone or pressured any leader,” he said.
Defending the income tax raids on NCP leader and former minister Hasan Mushrif, Mahajan said the action was legal and not out of any political vengeance.
Media reports say a sizeable number of corporators, including Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation Mayor Sandeep Naik, may switch over to the BJP from the NCP. “A good number of corporators on Sunday held a meeting in Navi Mumbai and appealed to Sandeep Naik to join the BJP ahead of Assembly elections. If that happens, the BJP will not only gain a strong candidate, but it will also come into power in the civic body as well,” said a source in the know.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP had won 122 seats out of total 288 while the Shiv Sena 63. The Congress and the NCP bagged 42 and 41 seats, respectively. In the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine managed to bag 41 of the 48 seats. The NCP got just four and the Congress 1.