Death & power flurry

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 28.10.14
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Mumbai, Oct. 27: Govind Rathod, one of BJP’s newly elected Maharashtra MLAs, died after a cardiac arrest last night on a train to Mumbai to attend Tuesday’s meeting of legislators that will pick the chief minister. He was 62.

The death of the first-time MLA reduced the BJP’s tally to 121 in the 288-member House and came amid hints of Shiv Sena support and Sharad Pawar’s NCP offer of help if the BJP “formed a minority government”.

Rathod had won the Mukhed seat in Nanded, a Congress stronghold, by over 73,000 votes. He was on the Devgiri Express when he complained of chest pain around 10.30 last night. Son Gangadhar, who was with him, had the train stopped at a station in Jalna and rushed him to a nearby hospital. Rathod was declared brought dead.

State BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis, tipped to be picked the leader at tomorrow’s meeting, visited Rathod’s family. Rajnath Singh and BJP state minder J.P. Nadda are scheduled to attend tomorrow’s meet as central observers. The BJP, which has the support of ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha’s lone MLA, needs 23 more to reach the half-way mark of 145.

Today, the 63-MLA Sena further softened its stance towards the BJP, crediting Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for helping the former ally get “close to majority”.

“…the right to decide who will be Maharashtra’s vada pradhan (chief minister) rests with Modi and Shah. After all, the BJP’s seats increased in Maharashtra and it could reach close to the majority mark only due to Modi and Shah…the Shiv Sena is ready to support anyone who will take Maharashtra ahead with the blessings of the people,” said an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamna.

But the NCP, which has 41 MLAs, declared it would be “compelled” to abstain from a confidence vote if the BJP formed a minority government instead of tying up with the Sena. “The numbers are such that we are compelled to do it. Otherwise, within six months, there will again be elections,” Pawar said in an interview in a financial daily.