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Pawar-Rane meet fuels talk of ex-CM's return to Oppn fold

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

set tongues wagging Monday after meeting former Narayan amid speculation over the latter's possible return to the opposition-fold ahead of the 2019

Pawar, who is currently touring district in the coastal Konkan region of Maharashtra, visited the Kankavli residence of Rane, a member backed by the BJP.

Rane, former chief minister, quit the in September last year and floated a new party, the Maharashtra Swabhimani Paksha.

While both and maintained it was a "courtesy" meeting, sources in the NCP said the party was exploring the option of fielding the Konkan from the Ratnagiri-constituency.

"Had a courtesy meeting with of Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha @MeNarayanRane. Could discuss with him on several issues candidly," tweeted.

told that the meeting lasted for just over five minutes and suggested no political interference be drawn out of it.

"He (Pawar) just had coconut water...there was no such discussion (on switching to the opposition fold) during the meeting. I am not discussing anything with anyone," Rane said.

However, an NCP source said an "informal discussion" was held during the meeting on the current political scenario. "A few more meetings between the two leaders may follow," the source said.

According to NCP sources, Rane was upset with the BJP extending an olive branch to its alliance partner ahead of the polls. Rane had left the Sena on a bitter note in 2005.

They also pointed to Rane's recent criticism of the BJP-led central government over a range of issues.

"The BJP cajoling the is not something that will go down well with Rane as he does not enjoy a good rapport with the Shiv Sena," a source said.

The Congress, which is in seat-sharing talks (for the polls) with other like-minded parties, including the NCP, lacks a strong candidate to field from the seat, being represented by Shiv Sena's Vinayak Raut, he added.

"The NCP also does not have a strong candidate there, so fielding Rane is a good option because of his winnability," the source said.

It was unlikely that Rane would go back to the Shiv Sena or the Congress, the source added.

Asked about the meeting, Rane's MLA son Nitesh, who too was present when the two senior leaders met, said, "He (Pawar) was heading towards Ratnagiri from Kankavli. He said he would come for tea, so he did.

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

First Published: Mon, December 03 2018. 19:50 IST