MUMBAI: After a brief hiatus due to floods, the political pitch in poll-bound Maharashtra has started heating up once again with Congress MLA Nirmala Gavit on Wednesday formally joining the ruling Shiv Sena, a day after resigning as a member of the Legislative Assembly.
Welcoming her into the party fold, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has said induction of the Igatpuri MLA will strengthen his party in Nashik district in north Maharashtra.
Gavit, daughter of Congress veteran Manikrao Gavit, had said she was quitting as an MLA to ensure the development of the constituency.
Ahead of elections, due in September-October, the Congress and the NCP are in disarray in view of a string of desertions, and if sources to be believed Gavit's crossover is certainly not going to be the last one.
According to sources in the BJP, Congress MLA from Indapur in Pune district and former marketing minister, Harshvardhan Patil, is likely to join the BJP.
Patil could be a prized catch for the BJP given that NCP MP Supriya Sule had secured a decisive lead of 70,000 votes from Indapur over her rival from Baramati in the recently-held Lok Sabha elections.
"Though Patil has been traditionally challenged by the Sena in Indapur, he is likely to join the BJP ahead of polls," they said.
Patil shifting his loyalties to the BJP might affect Sule's chances of winning another term in 2024, they said.
Notably, the then in-charge of Baramati Lok Sabha constituency and incumbent state BJP president Chandrakant Patil had said the BJP would wrest Baramati from the Pawars in 2024.
Earlier, bigwigs from the NCP including its Mumbai unit preident Sachin Ahir, and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil of the Congress had quit their parent parties to join the Shiv Sena and the BJP, respectively.
Another fence-sitter from the Sharad Pawar-led party who might cross over to the BJP is Maratha royal and Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale.
Speculation on Bhosale's future move started doing rounds after he called on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis here on Tuesday night.
Bhosale's clarification that his visit was meant to resolve the issues of flood-related people from Satara has failed to convince political circles.
Commenting on the meeting, senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar told reporters that Udayanraje met the chief minister to draw his attention to the flood-hit people in Satara district.
"It was not a political meeting," he added.
When asked about Bhosale's next move, Pawar retorted saying, "You should ask this question to Bhosale".
Sources close to the development said the BJP was not very keen to take Bhosale, who is known for brash demeanour and devil-may-care attitude, on board in the wake of the massive mandate the party had secured in the Lok Sabha polls.
Bhosale's cousin and former NCP MLA Shivendraraje has already joined the BJP which is likely to field him from Satara-Jawli assembly segment.
"The cousins, however, do not see eye to eye, especially after Shivendraraje's wife Vedantikaraje tasted defeat in Satara municipal council elections by the leaders loyal to Udayanraje Bhosale," they said.
However, a close aide of the MP alleged the development works proposed by him are being deliberately put on back-burner to malign his image among voters.
He claimed the projects like construction of Rs 60 crore grade separator road in Satara and raising the height of Kaas lake are still pending.