Former NCP leader Datta Meghe to join Congress

August 16th, 2008 - 3:22 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Nagpur, Aug 16 (IANS) Former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Datta Meghe is all set to join the Congress on Aug 20, the birth anniversary of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, subject to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s availability to bless his formal entry to the party, his aide said Saturday. A veteran politician from Vidarbha, Meghe, who recently quit the NCP after denial of yet another Rajya Sabha term following the expiry of his second term last April, left for Delhi Saturday morning to make preparations for the occasion, his aide told IANS.

Meghe had earlier written to Congress leaders including the party president, expressing his desire to join the Congress on Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary as it was at the former prime minister’s behest that he had contested the first Lok Sabha election from Nagpur in 1991. While the elections had been postponed due to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Meghe won with a thumping majority in the rescheduled polls.

Though Meghe is yet to hear from the Congress high command, sources said he is likely to meet Sonia Gandhi’s political adviser Ahmed Patel and All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Maharashtra Margaret Alva in the next couple of days.

Before finally deciding to join the Congress, Meghe had made up his mind to join the Shiv Sena and had given his word to the party executive president Uddhav Thackeray to the effect.

The Congress in Vidarbha, its stronghold, is poised for another handsome gain. Expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Yavatmal, Haribhau Rathod, is set to join the party too. Rathod had been expelled by a red-faced BJP following his abstention from the July 22 trust vote in parliament on the Manmohgan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government.

Rathod, a powerful Banjara community leader and a close confidante of BJP leader Gopinath Munde, had said after his expulsion that he had already made up his mind to quit the BJP and join the Congress as the UPA government had set up a commission to go into the issue of including the community in the reserved category.

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