In a setback to the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Niranjan Davkhare, legislator and son of late senior leader Vasant Davkhare, will be joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday. With his resignation, the NCP’s strength in the state’s Upper House is down to 22, from 23.
Davkhare submitted his resignation letter to Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, chairman of the state legislative council, on Tuesday. The BJP’s state unit confirmed that he would be joining the party in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Reacting to the move, the NCP has decided to expel him from the party for six years. In a statement, Shivajirao Garje, the NCP’s general secretary, said the party gave him many opportunities. “He was appointed state president of the party’s student and youth wing, but he chose to become an opportunist and is joining another party now. So, the NCP has decided to expel him for six years,” Garje said.
The young politician is said to be upset with the NCP over its lack of support for the upcoming polls. “Davkhare was not happy with the leadership as he was expecting the party’s support for election preparations. He was also upset with local leaders such as MLA Jitendra Awhad for sidelining him with regard to party affairs in Thane district,” said a leader from the Davkhare camp, requesting anonymity.
NCP leaders said they had been aware of his intention to move out, but said they thought he was going to join the Shiv Sena. “To contest the graduate constituency polls, a candidate has to begin preparations at least a year in advance, starting with holding a registration campaign of graduates. But Niranjan was doing nothing. He gave a clear sense that he was planning something else,” said a senior NCP leader, who also did not wish to be named.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said Davkhare had become an NCP leader only because of his late father, and was focused only on plotting his own career. “He was not at all unhappy with the party. People like him cannot live without power. As the NCP is not in the government anymore, he is joining the BJP,” Malik said.