17 NCP MLAs willing to join BJP, says Raosaheb Danve

The Asian Age.

Metros, Mumbai

Meanwhile, NCP chief Sharad Pawar termed his parties’ deserters ‘crows’.

Raosaheb Danve

Mumbai: Union minister Raosaheb Danve created a flutter on Sunday by claiming that as many as 17 more Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs were willing to join the  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the days to come.

The former state BJP chief, however, refused to divulge the names of the MLAs, saying a decision on their induction would be taken after considering social and political equations.

The Union minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, at the same time, attempted to pacify party workers, saying they should not feel disheartened by the influx of Opposition leaders. “Whoever comes into the party, you should keep working with devotion. You will receive your due,” he said in Aurangabad.

The saffron party has recently inducted several NCP MLAs including Vaibhav Pichad, Sandeep Naik and Shivendra Raje Bhosale, into its ranks.

Apart from them, former minister Madhukar Pichad and state women’s wing president Chitra Wagh have also joined the BJP.

In another possible blow to the Opposition, BJP MLC Prasad Lad on Sunday said that two MLAs from Ratnagiri district were in touch with the BJP. However, he too has kept their names under wraps. Meanwhile, NCP chief  Sharad Pawar termed his parties’ deserters ‘crows’.

“We don't need to worry about crows (kawale) any longer, instead focus on party workers (mawale) ahead of the assembly elections,” the Maratha strongman said.

The veteran leader also said the party would consider fielding fresh faces in the upcoming polls.

“I would insist on giving chance to youth and women in the coming elections,” Mr Pawar added.

Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil has also slammed the BJP, saying it was poaching leaders ‘groomed’ by his party. “The Congressification of the BJP has started. They are inducting leaders who have been groomed by us. The BJP should give a chance to its own party workers, rather than inducting our leaders,” said Mr Patil.

The NCP leader wondered out loud if the BJP was inducting leaders from his party because it had “lost credibility”.  “It is more important to have people who can stitch (groom leaders) than the ones who simply buy ready-made clothes. The leaders have switched their loyalties but what about their followers and party workers,” he asked.