Rane on Am­bi­tious Run

Narayan Rane quits Congress in open show of re­volt and greed for chief min­is­te­rial post, but the strong­man from Sind­hudurg lacked sim­i­lar fire when Shiv Sena sacked him in 2005

The Day After - - CONTENT - By dAn­FEs

As In­dia ush­ered in a fes­tive mode with the nine-day Navara­tri celebrations start­ing on Septem­ber 21st, the po­lit­i­cal canopy in Ma­ha­rash­tra looked likely to see new equa­tions be­ing drawn with Narayan Rane quit­ting the Congress.

Ad­dress­ing the me­dia at his home turf Kankavali in Sind­hudurg, Rane un­leashed a no holds barred at­tack on state Congress pres­i­dent Ashok Cha­van, state in-charge Mo­han Prakash and the high com­mand of the party.

“Today I have re­signed from the Congress and as an MLC. With my exit, Congress won’t ex­ist in Ma­ha­rash­tra. Along with MLAs from Congress, leg­is­la­tors from Shiv Sena will also join me. I will an­nounce the fu­ture course of ac­tion af­ter Dussehra. I will tour en­tire Ma­ha­rash­tra be­gin­ning from Nagpur start­ing to­mor­row and meet peo­ple from var­i­ous re­gions,” Rane said.

“I went to the Congress be­cause I was as­sured that I will be chief min­is­ter in six months,” he said. “I waited for 12 years. When I found that there was no scope for me in the Congress, I de­cided to quit,” Rane said.

Blam­ing Cha­van and Prakash for the party’s de­feat in sev­eral elec­tions in­clud­ing Lok Sabha, Assem­bly, mu­nic­i­pal and Zilla Par­ishad polls, the for­mer Congress leader said, “De­spite sev­eral elec­tion losses, the two con­tin­ued to re­tain their posts.”

Af­ter Nagpur, Rane is likely to tour Nanded which is Cha­van’s stronghold. The Congress state pres­i­dent is, how­ever, un­per­turbed.

“What­ever (Narayan) Rane said is not true. I give him my best wishes for his new be­gin­ning,” said Cha­van.

The for­mer Congress leader did not spare Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber and po­lit­i­cal sec­re­tary to Congress pres­i­dent So­nia Gandhi, Ahmed Pa­tel as well, say­ing that the lat­ter forced him to com­plain against for­mer Ma­ha­rash­tra chief min­is­ter Vi­las­rao Desh­mukh.

“I did join the Congress, but all along, I was strongly op­posed by none other Ashok Cha­van for ob­vi­ous po­lit­i­cal rea­sons. Congress lacks com­mit­ment and de­ter­mi­na­tion to take on the BJP and Shiv Sena,” he said.

Rane had joined the Congress in 2005 af­ter he was ex­pelled from the Shiv Sena.

“There is no point in re­turn­ing to the Shiv Sena. Many Congress and Shiv Sena MLAs will re­sign from their par­ties soon,” he said, prob­a­bly send­ing shock­waves in the Congress and Shiv Sena camps.

Miffed over be­ing de­nied the post of chief min­is­ter, which was per­haps the car­rot dan­gled to lure him to the Congress, Rane took a dig at the party for the in­jus­tice done to him and his sup­port­ers. Along with Rane who re­signed from pri­mary mem­ber­ship of the party and as an MLC, his son and for­mer MP Nilesh Rane also left the party. Nitesh, his other son, rep­re­sents the Dev­gad con­stituency as a Congress MLA in the present Assem­bly. He has not re­signed so far.

Over the last few months, it was ob­vi­ous that Rane was not too happy with the Congress. Four months back Rane also met BJP na­tional pres­i­dent Amit Shah ig­nit­ing in­tense spec­u­la­tions over his join­ing the party. Un­like his past stance, Ma­ha­rash­tra chief min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis has con­sid­er­ably soft­ened up his at­ti­tude to­wards Rane of late, said sources close to the for­mer Congress leader.

Although there has been grapevine that Rane might join the BJP for some time now, the BJP state unit is how­ever not quite happy with the prospect of the for­mer Congress leader be­ing in­ducted into the state cab­i­net and his sons join­ing the party.

“For this rea­son, his in­duc­tion into the party has been stalled three times,” a close Rane aide said.

The pos­si­bil­ity of Rane float­ing his own po­lit­i­cal out­fit looks slim as the for­mer Congress leader rub­bished such re­ports.

“This is the old style of Shiv Sena pres­i­dent Ud­dhav Thack­eray. He will not leave Fad­navis gov­ern­ment and Sena has no self-re­spect,” he said.

Rane’s jour­ney in Ma­ha­rash­tra pol­i­tics that spans over a pe­riod of nearly five decades started from the scratch reach­ing up to the Chief Min­is­ter’s Of­fice.

In his 37 years in Shiv Sena, he be­came a cor­po­ra­tor, BEST com­mit­tee chair­man, MLA, op­po­si­tion leader and fi­nally the chief min­is­ter in 1999. Soon af­ter his ex­pul­sion from Shiv Sena by Bal Thack­eray in 2005, Narayan joined Congress and held posts like rev­enue min­is­ter, in­dus­try min­is­ter till 2014.

How­ever, in 2014 his con­sec­u­tive six- time run was bro­ken by a rel­a­tively new Shiv Sena can­di­date Vaib­hav Naik who de­feated him in his stronghold Ku­dal con­stituency in the Assem­bly elec­tion. Rane again lost in the by­elec­tion to the Ban­dra Assem­bly seat in 2016. Shiv Sena’s Trupti Sawant won the seat.

The Congress then fi­nally made him an MLC in 2017.

When Rane was shown the door from the Shiv Sena in 2005, nine MLAs and dozens of cor­po­ra­tors also left the party in protest. How­ever, a sim­i­lar clout was miss­ing on Thurs­day as only two sit­ting MLAs — his son Nitesh and Naigaon MLA Kal­i­das Ko­lam­bkar — were with him.

At this point of time, Rane can only take some so­lace to the fact that the dis­grun­tled el­e­ments in the Congress and Shiv Sena might join him in the days to come. If that doesn’t hap­pen the for­mer chief min­is­ter will just be re­duced to be­ing a po­lit­i­cal leader in Sind­hudurg district with­out any party af­fil­i­a­tions.

BJP leader Ashish She­lar (left) speaks to Narayan Rane out­side Vid­han Bha­van

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