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Maha Congress mum on Rane issue; BJP in two minds on him

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

The in is maintaining a studied silence over the issue of sulking leader Narayan Rane, who is said to be contemplating leaving the party.

Earlier this week, speculation was rife that the 64- year-old Shiv Sainik-turned-Congressman was headed towards the camp. However, both sides denied any such development but that was not enough to quell the speculation.


The former Chief Minister has been for long critical of the party leadership and often boasted that he has an "open invitation" from the

The Congress, however, is refraining from speaking publicly on the Rane issue.

"Individuals cutting across party lines can meet each other. Officially Rane and the have not said anything about the likelihood of the former joining the ruling party. There is no curiosity among the party rank and file on what decision Rane will take since he has been critical of the party and its leaders," a senior functionary said.

Another party office-bearer said he has no comments to offer. But he cryptically added, "No comments is in itself a comment", apparently indicating the party is not too much bothered about the maverick leader's moves.

Last week, channels flashed pictures of Rane and his MLA-son Nitesh accompanying Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during his Ahmedabad visit. The Ranes were said to on their way to meet President Amit Shah who was that time in Ahmedabad.

However, both Rane and Fadnavis denied meeting each other in Ahmedabad.

Top leaders in the state are currently on the second leg of their 'Sangharsh Yatra' demanding farm loan waiver. Rane has stayed away from the yatra though he attended the concluding rally of the first phase at Panvel.

Rane's elder son Nilesh, a former Lok Sabha MP, has demanded removal of State President Ashok Chavan.

The appears to be in two minds on inducting the leader, who is prone to making controversial statements.

A office-bearer said any decision on Rane will be taken by the party's central leadership. "There are two views on inducting him in the party. But a final decision can only to taken by the central leadership."

Rane lost the 2014 Assembly polls from Malvan, while his son Nilesh was defeated from the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat in the Lok Sabha elections held the same year.

Rane made an attempt to enter the Assembly in April 2015 in a by-election from Bandra (East) but lost to the He was later rehabilitated in the Legislative Council.

leaders said despite his electoral defeats and waning clout, the leader still holds sway in parts of the coastal Konkan region.

Meanwhile, political observers said if Rane quits, it will be a setback for the Congress, which may lose the post of Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.

"The has 42 MLAs and the NCP 41. If Rane quits Congress, his son Nitesh and close aide Kalidas Kolambkar, who is also an MLA, too, will resign. This will lower the tally in the Assembly and the Leader of Opposition post would go to the NCP," they said.

Similarly, the would lose power in the Sindhudurg Zilla Parishad in Konkan where the party, led by Rane, had bagged a majority in the just-held elections.

According to sources, when Rane took his grievances to party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, the latter asked him about the complaints state leaders have against him.

A section in feels Rane's entry will strengthen the saffron party in Sindhudurg district and also help in the 2019 Assembly polls. However, leaders from Konkan are said to be not too enthusiastic about his entry.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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