New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and former Goa chief minister Pratapsingh Rane on Wednesday put an end to rising speculation over his exit from the Congress party, calling it a ‘figment of imagination’.
Rane’s remark came after the former Maharashtra chief minister and BJP’s in-charge for Goa assembly polls Devendra Fadnavis, on Tuesday said that the party would soon get the ‘blessings’ of Pratapsingh Rane and the Congress party in Goa would be left with just two MLAs.
In a video message, the 82-year-old senior-most Goan MLA, Rane said, “The news that is being spread that I am quitting my party is a fig(ment) of imagination. These people just want to spread canards. I am not leaving my party. I belong to the Congress party for over 45 years, and I don’t think I would ever, at this juncture, think of leaving the Congress party. I belong to the Indian National Congress and that’s it.”
It is to be mentioned that on Tuesday, senior Congress MLA and former chief minister Ravi Naik submitted his resignation to the Goa Assembly Speaker and joined the BJP. His exit from the grand old party brought Congress’ strength in the 40-member Assembly down to three.
At Naik’s induction ceremony in Ponda on Tuesday, Fadnavis had said, “When (deputy chief minister) Babu Kavlekarji joined the BJP, I had said that Congress was reduced to a Nano party. They had enough MLAs to fit into a Nano car. Now, with Ravi Naikji joining the BJP, they have become an auto-rickshaw party. All their MLAs can fit into an auto-rickshaw. And soon when we get (Congress MLA) Pratapsingh Raneji’s blessings, they will be reduced to a cycle party. Their MLAs will be able to go together anywhere on a bicycle.”
While Rane’s son, Vishwajit Rane -who is Health Minister in the state, quit Congress in 2017 to join the BJP, while Pratapsingh Rane retained his assembly seat Poriem for Congress, his 11th consecutive win.
When Fadnavis met the Ranes in September, he requested the senior leader to ‘give blessings’ to his son and give the Poriem assembly seat to the BJP. Vishwajit has maintained since 2017 that he had joined the BJP with his father’s blessings.
Rane, who first became an MLA in 1972, completed 50 years as a legislator this year, of which he has spent 45 with Congress. He was first elected as an MLA of the third legislative assembly of Goa, Daman and Diu in 1972 with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP). He later joined Congress and became the chief minister of Goa in 1980 for the first time, followed by five other stints at the helm of varying durations. Rane also served as the Speaker of the Goa legislative assembly and the leader of the Opposition twice each.