Mumbai, April 13 (IANS) Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Narayan T. Rane on Thursday dismissed all talk of him joining the Bharatiya Janata Party.
However, he confirmed that the BJP had made an offer to him “long ago”, and he has neither accepted nor declined it, indicating his political options were open.
Speaking to media persons here on Thursday afternoon, Rane scotched all rumours of joining the BJP, especially after some private TV channels showed clips of him purportedly travelling in a vehicle along with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Ahmedabad on Wednesday night, and both ostensibly on way to meet BJP President Amit Shah.
“I was in Ahmedabad for some personal work, and I did not meet anybody. I returned this morning at 6.45 a.m. If I was planning to leave the Congress, my meeting with Shah or Fadnavis would have remained a secret. But, I did not go there secretly,” Rane explained.
Referring to TV images, he said these “are not true, I don’t know when these were taken”, though he admitted to have travelled with Fadnavis on two occasions earlier.
Rane was the Maharashtra Chief Minister of the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition in 1999.
He said that from the Ahmedabad airport to Hotel Grand Hyatt, he travelled in his own vehicle, and since his meeting continued till late, he stayed back at the hotel.
Rane made it clear that though there is an offer from the BJP since 2014, there is no discussion or any move for him to quit the Congress presently.
“If I was planning to quit Congress, I would do it directly without meeting anybody… When I take the decision, I will openly speak out,” Rane asserted, puncturing the political speculation on his next move for the second time in a week.
On his perceived disillusionment with the Congress, he said it arose out of a need for the party to become strong enough to win the next elections.
“I have met (Congress Vice President) Rahul Gandhi recently on this… He heard me out, but no steps have been taken to strengthen the party and there are no solutions to my grievances,” he said.
Since the Congress debacle in the February civic elections in Maharashtra, speculation has been rife in political circles over Rane’s future moves, especially after he and son Nitesh Rane openly criticised the state Congress leadership, and he was recently seen hobnobbing with various BJP leaders.