Sharad Pawar, Narayan Rane Meet Triggers Defection Talk; NCP Calls it Informal Visit
Narayan Rane (Photo credit: PTI)

Mumbai, December 3: Just over a year after he switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narayan Rane hosted Sharad Pawar at his residence in Sindhurdurg district of Konkan on Monday, sparking speculation that he may join the NCP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, the National Congress Party said the meeting was informal.

According to a report, Sharad Pawar spent more than an hour at Narayan Rane's residence. After quitting the Congress last year, Rane launched his own political outfit, Maharashtra Swabhimani Paksha, and supported the BJP. However, the BJP denied him a cabinet berth and instead offered a Rajya Sabha nomination.

While Rane backed the BJP, his two sons, former MP Nilesh Rane and sitting Congress legislator Nitesh Rane have joined the saffron party. "Pawarsaheb is touring Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts, Mr Rane is from there. He invited Pawarsaheb for an informal visit as it’s on the way. It’s too premature to read politics into this," state NCP president Jayant Patil told Hindustan Times.

There are speculations that Nilesh Rane may seek ticket from the NCP or their support to contest the next general election from the Ratnagiri-Sindhurdurg Lok Sabha seat. He was defeated by Shiv Sena’s Vinayak Raut in 2014 from the constituency. However, Nitesh Rane, who was present when Pawar paid the visit, ruled out the possibility of joining the NCP.

"Neither my brother nor I are planning to join NCP or contest on their party ticket as we have our party. However, the decision on whom our party could align with is still open and not a foregone conclusion," Nitesh was quoted as saying.