SANGLI (MAHARASHTRA):The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Friday created a buzz in Maharashtra by claiming to have netted into its fold a top political leader, who is an MP representing a major party.
NCP state president Madhukarrao Pichhad said at a party meeting that the MP was all set to join the party Saturday morning.
"At a party function to be held at 10 a.m.," he added confidently, though he did not specify whether the MP is from Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.
Contacted for his comments later, senior NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that "a former MP" would join the party Saturday, increasing the confusion.
The statements by the two top party leaders immediately set off alarm bells ringing in all the political parties, notably the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena, besides other smaller outfits having single-digit representation in parliament from the state.
Pichhad's assertions, though, have not come as a surprise given the spate of fence-sitters and defections it has been attracting since the past few weeks, in the run-up to the forthcoming Zilla Parishad elections (Feb 7) and municipal corporations (Feb 16) across the state.
Kalyan Shiv Sena MP Anand Paranjpe has already made his affiliations clear by openly hobnobbing with NCP top brass in the past one week, and even attending the party (NCP)'s internal functions and sharing the dais with party chief Sharad Pawar.
The buzz in political circles is that the NCP has succeeded in convincing at least four state members of parliament to support it and officially join at an opportune moment.
This has also made its ally, Congress wary with some leaders privately wondering why is the NCP reportedly poaching only MPs, especially as the forthcoming ballot battles are limited to local elections.
While the latest NCP 'catch' would be known Saturday, there is intense political and media speculation on probable names, focusing on disgruntled elements among different parties.