Tribune News Service
Mumbai, November 18
Several leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party who defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of last month’s assembly elections in Maharashtra are likely to face the wrath of Nationlist Congress Party strongman Sharad Pawar in the coming weeks.
According to NCP sources, many “turncoats” control sugar and milk co-operatives in Western Maharashtra and were lured by the BJP with incentives or threats of regulatory action. With the NCP poised to become part of the ruling front in the state with the Congress and the Shiv Sena, these leaders are a worried lot.
”Around 14-15 MLAs from the BJP who recently left the NCP are waiting to come back. But there won’t be any ‘mega bharti (admission)’,” party leader Jayant Patil told reporters in Pune over the weekend. Patil indicated that the NCP would ascertain the views of its local workers before taking a call on re-inducting the turncoats.
According to NCP sources, around 24 prominent leaders of the Congress and the NCP had defected to the BJP and the Shiv Sena over the past year.
While those who won as Shiv Sena candidates are sitting pretty, those who won on BJP tickets are said to be getting sleepless nights.
“Sharad Pawar and his associates are going to push for taking control of Maharashtra’s co-operative sector once the NCP becomes part of the government. And those who have got on the wrong side of saheb (as Pawar is known in Maharashtra) are worried,” says an NCP leader from Mumbai.
Several NCP leaders who were facing investigation by various agencies had even met with Pawar and apologised to him before joining the BJP.
Ganesh Naik, the BJP MLA from Navi Mumbai, even told reporters that he quit the NCP only to secure his son’s future. Following Naik’s departure the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, which was a NCP stronghold became the bastion of the BJP overnight.
Sources say, Naik is one of those looking to make a return since the state government plays a major role in the affairs of the bustling Navi Mumbai township.
A number of institutions catering to the co-operative sector in Maharashtra like the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank and other financial institutions are now controlled by the BJP with the help of politicians who defected from the Congress and the NCP. These financial institutions and organizations like the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees have been the fulcrum of the NCP’s power in rural Maharashtra.
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