Pratapsingh Rane, a senior Congress politician and former Goa chief minister, dismissed rumours about his departure from the party on Wednesday, calling it a “figment of imagination.”
This comes after former Maharashtra chief minister and BJP in-charge of the Goa assembly elections, Devendra Fadnavis, declared on Tuesday that the party will soon get Pratapsingh Rane’s “blessings” and that the Congress party in Goa would be reduced to only two MLAs.
“The report that I am leaving my party is a fig(ment) of imagination,” said 82-year-old Rane, the senior-most Goa MLA, in a video message. These folks are just interested in spreading rumours. I’m not going to leave my gathering. I’ve been a member of the Congress party for over 45 years, and I don’t believe I’d ever consider quitting at this point. I’m a member of the Indian National Congress, and that’s all there is to it.”
Ravi Naik, a prominent Congress MLA and former chief minister of Goa, resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP on Tuesday. With his departure from the Congress party, the party now has just three members in the 40-member Assembly.
“When (deputy chief minister) Babu Kavlekarji joined the BJP, I joked the Congress was reduced to a Nano party,” Fadnavis stated during Naik’s induction ceremony in Ponda on Tuesday. They had enough MLAs to fill a Nano vehicle with them. With the addition of Ravi Naikji to the BJP, the party has evolved into an auto-rickshaw party. An auto-rickshaw can hold all of their MLAs. They’ll be reduced to a bike party once we receive (Congress MLA) Pratapsingh Raneji’s approval. On a bicycle, their MLAs would be able to go anyplace together.”
While Rane’s son, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, defected from the Congress to join the BJP in 2017, Pratapsingh Rane won his assembly seat of Poriem for the 11th time.
In September, Fadnavis visited with the Ranes and urged that the older Rane ‘give blessings’ to his son and hand up the Poriem assembly seat to the BJP. Since 2017, Vishwajit has claimed that he joined the BJP with his father’s permission.
Rane, who initially became an MLA in 1972, celebrated his 50th year in the legislature this year, with 45 of those years spent in Congress. In 1972, he was elected as a member of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party to the third legislative assembly of Goa, Daman, and Diu (MGP). He eventually joined the Congress and became Goa’s first chief minister in 1980, followed by five further spells at the head of varied lengths. He has held the positions of Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly and Leader of the Opposition on two occasions.
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