BJP MP from Maharashtra Nana Patole, a critic of the central and state governments’ handling of agrarian issues, resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha today, accusing the saffron party of failing to keep the promises it made to the people.
Announcing his decision, which comes a day before the first phase polling in Gujarat, Patole told reporters that he would join Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Ahmedabad on December 11. Patole though said his twin resignations had nothing to do with any election.
Asked if he is going to return to the old party he deserted ahead of the 2014 general elections, Patole chose to play his cards close to his chest, saying he will first seek views from people in his constituency before making any move.
To a question, he denied having met Gandhi before tendering resignation. People, he alleged, are “dying” due to the BJP governments’ policies, a reference to farmers’ suicide, and that his voice was being “stifled”.
“I am representing people, it is their (people’s) seat.
But the government is using pressure tactics and I feel suffocated. So, to ensure people get justice, I decided to quit,” he said.
Patole took a potshot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his response to issues raised by him was not expected in a democracy and they had an “argument”. He was referring to a meeting Modi had with BJP MPs from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh last year.
“I raised the issues relating to farmers from time-to- time. Conveyed those to the prime minister, to (Maharashtra) Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. But all the concerns were ignored,” he alleged.
The MP from Bhandara-Gondiya constituency, where he had defeated NCP heavyweight Praful Patel in 2014, also met Congress general secretary in-charge for Maharashtra Mohan Prakash, who said his party was a home for Patole. Prakash, however, added it was for Patole to decide which party he wants to join.
“He is an old colleague from the party. He has been raising the issues Rahul ji and our party have been raising.
He did so by staying within the ruling party,” Prakash added.
Another Congress leader, who wished not to be named, viewed Patole’s step as a “bold move”.
“To take such a step when other BJP leaders are afraid of even asking question…he is probably the first Lok Sabha MP from the ruling party to have done so after the NDA came to power in 2014. Hence, we see it as a bold move. Others may be following suit,” the leader said.
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan, whom Patole met recently, told “we will be happy if he joins the party.”
Besides Chavan, Patole had recently met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Patole, however, stressed that his meeting with the leaders was mainly on the farm issues and there was no political discussion. Patole also played down queries relating to timing of his resignation, which he tendered a day before first phase polling in Gujarat.
“I landed here to attend Parliamentary standing committee meeting here. I was contemplating the move for some time. So, it has nothing to do with the polling in Gujarat or anywhere else,” he added.
He said he had long been raising pro-farmers and pro- people issues.
“I have raised these issues in the Lok Sabha and flagged them whenever I met the prime minister and the state’s chief minister. When I highlighted them at a meeting at the prime minister’s residence, his response was not something expected in a democracy,” he said.
Patole claimed that there is a lot of dissent among BJP leaders and there could be more resignations. In his resignation letter, he cited 14 issues related to agriculture, economy and unemployment as reasons for his resignation.