Nagpur, October 8: In a jolt to the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the assembly and Lok Sabha elections next year, its MLA Ashish Deshmukh submitted his resignation on Monday.
Deshmukh, who was representing the Katol constituency in Nagpur district, said his resignation is a mark of protest against the "anti-farmer agenda" of the Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra. Devendra Fadnavis Takes Dig at Congress, Says Half of Their Party Workers Don't Know If Rafale is an Aircraft or a Cycle.
Speculations are rife that 44-year-old Deshmukh will join the Congress. His father and ex-cabinet minister Ranjit Babu Deshmukh is still part of the grand old party.
BJP MLA Ashish Ranjitbabu Deshmukh resigns his seat in the Maharashtra assembly. His resignation has been accepted.
— ANI (@ANI) October 8, 2018
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Deshmukh indicated that he may take on BJP heavyweight Nitin Gadkari in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Nagpur.
Congress insiders claim the party's top brass has decided to field him against Gadkari next year. The decision was reportedly taken at the meeting held on October 2 between Deshmukh, his father Ranjit Deshmukh, state Congress chief Ashok Chavan and party president Rahul Gandhi.
Notably, the father-son duo have been a constant votary of a separate Vidarbha. The BJP's soft approach on the statehood issue was one of the reasons why the younger Deshmukh joined the party ahead of the 2014 general elections.
Deshmukh's ouster from the BJP is the second major jolt to the party in Maharashtra. Earlier in the year, the party's Lok Sabha MP from Bhandara-Gondia, Nana Patole, resigned from his seat demanding complete loan-waiver for the farmers of Vidarbha and Marathwada region.