Congress, NCP to lose 4 Maharashta MLAs to BJP (Lead)
Seven-time Congress legislator from Wadala (south Mumbai), Kalidas Kolambkar, NCP's Sandeep Naik from Airoli, Vaibhav Pichad from Akole and Shivendra Raje Bhosale from Satara quit their parties and legislative seats.
They met Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade and submitted their resignation letters from their seats, barely three months ahead of the Assembly elections in October.
All four are expected to join the BJP in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis before he embarks on his state-wide 'Mahajanadesh Yatra'.
Besides, senior NCP leader Ganesh Naik, a former close confidante of NCP President Sharad Pawar, is also set to join the BJP along with his son Sandip Naik.
The Naik family is considered the most influential in the satellite city on the mainland and surroundings, and the father-son duo would be accompanied by around 52 corporators from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
The senior Naik was formerly with the Shiv Sena and had served in the first saffron government between 1995-1999, but later joined the NCP and became a minister in successive governments till 2014.
On the other hand, Pichad is the son of former NCP minister Madhukar Pichad, a prominent tribal leader from Ahmednagar, again belonging to Pawar's close circles, while Bhosale enjoys huge political clout in Satara.
Vaibhav Pichad was reportedly coaxed by former Leader of Opposition and now Housing Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, and a staunch political rival of the newly-appointed Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat.
Kolambkar was a close aide of former Chief Minister and now Maharashtra Swabhiman Party President Narayan Rane, who is part of the ruling NDA and also a Rajya Sabha member.
All the four legislators, who quit on Tuesday, were in contact with Fadnavis since some time, besides other senior leaders like state BJP President Chandrakant Patil, minister Girish Mahajan and Union Minister Raosaheb Patil-Danve, before they took the plunge.
Last week, Mumbai NCP chief Sachin Ahir quit to join the ruling ally Shiv Sena, while state NCP Mahila Wing President Chitra Wagh also resigned and is likely to join BJP soon.
On Sunday (July 28), Pawar had accused the BJP of misusing agencies like the CBI, IT, ED, and the ACB to threaten and force Opposition legislators to join them before the elections.
However, both Fadnavis and his ministerial colleague Vinod Tawde dismissed the allegations and said the opposition MLAs were coming on their own free will without pressures of any kind, while other leaders said "more from the Opposition are on way to the BJP".