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In First Step To Join Fadnavis Team, Narayan Rane To Launch Party

Mumbai:  Narayan Rane, the Maharashtra heavyweight who exited the Congress last week, will float a new party on Sunday that is expected to support the BJP government in the state and pick up an invite to join Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s team. The arrangement is understood to have been finalised after Mr Rane’s meeting with BJP president Amit Shah on Monday.

The BJP had settled for the indirect, coalition route to get the 65-year-old politician to its side after the Shiv Sena threatened to walk out of the coalition if the party did not shut the doors on Mr Rane’s face.

Narayan Rane was booted out of the Shiv Sena by its chief Bal Thackeray in 2005 for accusing the Sena founder of “blind love for his son”, a reference to Uddhav Thackeray who now heads the Shiv Sena.

The leader, who has some influence in the Konkan region that has been a bastion of the Sena, had then joined the Congress which governed Maharashtra uninterrupted from 1999 to 2014. Last week, he quit the Congress accusing the party for reneging on its promise to make him the Chief Minister four times.

“Ahmed Patel, (Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political adviser) had told me after I joined Congress that I would be made the chief minister,” Mr Rane said last week while addressing a press conference in his native Sindhudurg district in coastal Konkan region. He had then insisted that he hadn’t yet decided if he would float his own party or join some other party.

But he had been in touch with the BJP leadership. A few months back, he met BJP president Amit Shah in Ahmedabad. After quitting the Congress along with his son and former lawmaker Nilesh Rane, the former Chief Minister had flown to Delhi to meet the BJP president again on Monday.

There has been speculation that Mr Rane could take oath as a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government as early as next week.

In 2005 too, Mr Rane had joined the Congress on July 26 and was made the revenue minister the next day in the then Congress-led government.