In what can be seen as a major setback for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in North Maharashtra, former minister Prashant Hiray and his son former MLC Apoorva Hiray joined the Nationalist Congress party.
The Hiray family has several educational institutes in the district and a sizeable presence in two lok sabha constituencies, Nasik and Dhule.
While Prashant has been a minister of state in the previous Shiv Sena-BJP government in 1995, his son Apoorva was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Council with the BJP’s support.
While terming their return to the NCP as “ghar wapasi”, Prashant Hiray showered praises on NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, calling him the messiah of farmers.
“Whenever there is a drought like situation, farmers of the state just think of one name and that is Sharad Pawar. This is akin to devotees remembering lord Vithhal,” Prashant said.
Apoorva Hiray launched a scathing attack against the BJP for failing to deliver on tall promises made to the people of Nasik.
“We were instrumental in registering the highest number of members for BJP in the state from the district. We were hoping that the BJP would bring about a change. But we are disillusioned by the BJP, especially the youth,” Apoorva said.
“Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced that he is adopting the district, much to our excitement. But that too did not yield any results,” he added.
The NCP chief too took a jibe at the BJP. “We don’t need to adopt someone to run the family. Whatever we do, we do it on our own capability,” Pawar said.
Coining a pun on Bhujbal’s name, Pawar said that the two Hirays would add ‘bal’ (strength) to the ‘bhuja’ (arms) of local strongman Chhagan Bhujbal.
The Hirays’ entry into NCP has been seen as a shot in the arm for the party. Prior to the 2014 elections, the party had a stronghold in Nasik.
The party is hopeful of roping in more such leaders in the run-up to the next general elections. The Hiray family has been in politics for four generations now.
Prashant’s father Vyankatrao Hiray was a prominent face of state politics while his mother Pushpatai has also been a cabinet minister. The family has political roots in Dabhadi near Malegaon with the political influence stretching in two districts.
News credit : Indiatoday