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Maharashtra Assembly elections: Bhaskar Jadhav, former NCP state chief, quits NCP to join Shiv Sena

FE Online
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Maharashtra assembly polls are just months away and the politicians have started switching sides to protect their ground. Today, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Bhaskar Jadhav joined Shiv Sena in presence of party chief Uddhav Thackeray. Jadhav was NCP’s top leader and also former state president. He had also served as minister in the previous government before the BJP-Shiv Sena took control of the state.

Jadhav’s exit comes as a jolt to party chief Sharad Pawar as the former holds considerable clout in the Konkan region. Jadhav held various ministerial portfolios such as Urban Development, Forest, Port, Sports, Parliamentary Affairs, Youth Welfare, Ex-Defence Welfare, Law and Order, Fisheries and Guardian Minister of Ratnagiri.

Sharad Pawar-led NCP has lost some of its key leaders in the last few months. Last month, former state presidents Madhukar Pichad and Babanrao Pachpute quit the party saying they were sidelined. NCP’s Mumbai president Sachin Ahir, women’s wing president Chitra Wagh were among some of the key leaders who resigned from the party in the recent past.

Not only NCP, the Congress too has lost some its heavyweight leaders to the ever aggressive BJP. This week on Wednesday, senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra minister Harshavardhan Patil joined the saffron party in presence of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Patil is a four-time MLA from Indapur in Pune district but lost the last assembly polls by a very narrow margin to the NCP’s Dattatrey Bharne.

Both the alliance partners are in complete disarray as BJP and Shiv Sena are driving the narrative in the state. Devendra Fadnavis is confident that he would be back as CM for the second term. Recently, Home Minister Amit Shah said that several leaders from the Congress and NCP wanted to join the saffron party. "If BJP opens its door completely, the no one except Sharad Pawar and Prithviraj Chavan will remain in their respective parties," Shah said.

Maharashtra will go to polls later this year. In 2014, the NCP and Congress had contested the assembly polls separately. They both lost badly - the Congress won 42 of 287 it contested whereas the NCP could manage to win just 41 of 278. The BJP emerged the single largest party by winning 122 of 260 seats while Shiv Sena came at second with 63 seats in its kitty.