Another NCP MLA set to join Shiv Sena

Another NCP MLA set to join Shiv Sena
NCP MLA Dileep Sopal (inset), who represents Barshi Assembly constituency in Solapur district, is expected to resign from the assembly tomorrow and join Sena on Wednesday

After a slew of defections, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is set to lose another MLA – Dileep Sopal – to rival Shiv Sena.

Sopal, who represents Barshi Assembly constituency in Solapur district, announced his decision on Monday. He is expected to send his resignation to Speaker Haribhau Bagde tomorrow and officially join Sena on Wednesday.

The MLA had earlier served as a State Cabinet minister in the previous Congress-NCP coalition government.

The development was confirmed by a close aide of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

Last month, NCP MLA Pandurang Barora, who represented Shahapur Assembly seat in Palghar district, joined the Shiv Sena, which is an ally of the ruling BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra.

On August 25, rumours were doing the rounds that the NCP’s former Minister and heavyweight leader from Konkan region, Bhaskar Jadhav, may join Sena.

The speculation was reportedly fueled when Jadhav, a former Shiv Sainik and sitting MLA from Guhagar constituency in Ratnagiri district, visited Thackeray’s resident Matoshree in Bandra and held a closed-door meeting.

However, the senior leader denied that he was leaving the NCP. “These are just rumours. I will remain with the NCP,” he said.

Apart from Shiv Sena, the BJP is also sending feelers to senior NCP leaders, including Satara MP and Maratha royal Udayanraje Bhosale.

Bhosale, one of NCP’s four MPs in Maharashtra, had earlier accused the previous Congress-NCP government of creating “obstacles” in the progress of his constituency.

Recently, his cousin and NCP’s Satara MLA Shivendrasinh Bhosale deserted the party and joined the BJP along with other legislators like Sandip Naik and Vaibhav Pichad.

Over the last few weeks, the Sharad Pawar-led party has lost several key leaders to BJP-Shiv Sena, prompting the statesman to accuse the ruling combine of pressurising opposition leaders.

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