Choosing to go alone, former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan T Rane on Sunday floated a new political outfit — the Maharashtra Swabhiman Party — which would work for the overall and all-inclusive development of the state.
The aggressive leader from the coastal Konkan region who was earlier with the Shiv Sena and then for 12 years with the Congress kept political circles guessing on whether he would join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
"The motto of the MSP shall be fulfilling all our commitments and work for the interests of the people of the state. After setting up the party organisation, we shall decide on our future course including allying with the NDA," Rane said.
Though he sharply criticised ruling ally Shiv Sena, he supported the much-maligned bullet train proposal on the grounds that it was "a development project" that was necessary just like mobile phones.
Rane was Maharashtra chief minister for nearly one year (1999) in the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance which ruled the state between 1995 and 1999, and later he served as Opposition Leader before quitting the party to join the Congress in 2005, which he left last month.
The birth of the MSP marking his third political inning was welcomed with bursting of firecrackers, beating of drums and processions in his home district Sindhudurg and other parts.
Speculation was rife over the past few months that Rane was planning to switch over to the BJP and had even met BJP president Amit Shah, state BJP chief Raosaheb Patil-Danve and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on several occasions.
With the MSP entering the fray, the state's political landscape vying for Maharashtrian votes became further crowded with the BJP, Shiv Sena, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Republican Party of India, several local and state-level parties, besides other national parties having their state units.