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The lonely exit of Narayan Rane: The BJP dilemma continues

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Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Narayan Rane on Thursday announced his exit from the Congress party. The pomp around his exit from Shiv Sena in 2005 was clearly missing on Thursday when he left the Congress raising speculations of whether Rane's political clout in dwindling in the state. The lack of clarity on his onward journey to the BJP did little to shake off the notion.

Narayan Rane

In 2005 when Rane, miffed with the Shiv Sena, decided to join the Congress, he was flanked by 11 Shiv Sena MLAs and MPs who defected 'in principle' with him. The Konkan strongman had proven to be an added strength to the Congress. 12 years down the line, on Thursday when he decided to call it quits from the Congress, not a single MLAs nor his sons were ready to shift with him. This, despite the leader purportedly trying hard to induct both his sons into the BJP in key posts.

While his son Nitesh and his aide Kalidas Kolambkar claimed to support Rane, neither has resigned from either the party or post. Bharatiya Janata Party is Rane's only viable option. The Konkan strongman has made it amply clear that he intends to join the BJP to add strength to it in the Konkan region where Shiv Sena is a force to reckon with. But despite his grand exit announcement, Rane remained mum on his prospects of joining the BJP.

Maharashtra Chief Miniter Devendra Fadnavis, for one, is not keen on inducting Rane into the cabinet. His seniority and power struggle with the Congress for all of the 12 years he has been with the party is no secret. Rane's links to Dawood is doing very little to salvage the situation with the recent arrest of Dawood's brother. "Rane is hoping to be minister for Public works department but Fadnavis is unsure of him toeing the party line. There is also the discomfort that Shiv Sena shares with Rane," said a BJP leader from Maharashtra.

While Maharashtra state BJP leaders are looking at Rane as trouble, the central leadership of the BJP is keen on having him on board. It, BJP functionaries claim, is only a matter of time before Rane is inducted into the party. Dasara is the timeline that the party is looking at. A decision on Rane will be taken depending on what he is bringing to the table along with demands for his sons during the BJP's national executive meet.

Neither the dwindling support for Rane nor the sulking ally partner Shiv Sena comes as good news to the BJP. But Rane's entry is expected to make the party stronger in the region where it has no seats. While there is no doubt that Rane doesn't enjoy the kind of support he did in 2005, is what he has now just enough for the BJP remains to be seen.

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