Modi-critic BJP leader quits party, Lok Sabha; to share stage with Rahul Gandhi

Modi-critic BJP leader quits party, Lok Sabha; to share stage with Rahul Gandhi

Months after sparring with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rebel Maharashtra BJP leader Nana Patole on Friday quit his Lok Sabha seat and the party.

Patole, a former Congressman, said he would join Rahul Gandhi at an election rally in Ahmedabad on Monday. However, he made it clear that he was not joining any political party at this juncture.

AICC General Secretary Mohan Prakash met Patole hours after he handed over his resignation from the Bhandara-Gondia parliament seat to Lok Sabha Secretary General Snehalata Shrivastava on Friday.

Asked whether the Congress would welcome Patole back into the party, Prakash quipped "Yeh toh unka hi ghar hai (This is his own home)."

Earlier, Patole had separate meetings with Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan and Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray.

Patole had been raising issues of agrarian distress, particularly from Vidarbha region of Maharashtra where several farmers have committed suicide. He hit out at the Prime Minister for "ignoring" the genuine issues of farmers such as increase in support prices and helping them come out of the vicious farm loan cycle.

BJP has not commented on Patole's resignation. However, a section of the BJP feels that Patole feared that the party may accommodate his arch rival and NCP leader Praful Patel. Patole had defeated Patel in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

"I have not decided to join any political party. But I will share the stage with Rahul Gandhi in Ahmedabad on December 11," Patole told reporters here.

Ever since his fall out with Modi at meeting of MPs at the prime minister's residence, Patole has struck a defiant note and charted his own course. He assiduously raised issues of agrarian distress in Vidarbha which has witnessed a spurt in farmers' suicides.

"Instead of addressing people's issues. The government is trying to muzzle their voice," Patole said adding that he had raised farmer's issues with the prime minister as well as the chief minister of Maharashtra but to no avail.

Earlier this week, he also organised a farmers' agitation in Akola, which was addressed by another BJP rebel Yashwant Sinha.

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