BJP mulls reshuffle in its Maharashtra unit

For Printing Download Epaper from files section from bottom of this page

BJP mulls reshuffle in its Maharashtra unit

Mumbai :The BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) is gearing up for ‘mini Assembly elections’ in Maharashtra. There are talks that the party is considering an organisational reshuffle in the state unit. Party top brass is mulling whether they need to put an aggressive Maratha or Other Backward Classes (OBC) face at the top in the state. Meanwhile, speculations are also on over BJP joining hands with the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra NavnirmanSena (MNS). On Friday, state BJP president ChandrakantPatil called on Thackeray at his residence in Dadar, fuelling speculations over a BJP-MNS tie-up in the civic polls, slated to be held early next year. The meeting is seen as the first step towards an alliance between the two parties.

More than 15 municipal corporations (including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane), 29 of the 36 district councils and over 90 municipal councils will go for polls over the next 18 months. Elections will be held for local bodies across the state, because of which it is also being touted as mini Assembly polls. As such, the polls are crucial for both the ruling three-party coalition as well as the Opposition BJP.

On Saturday, Patil reached Delhi along with a group of state BJP leaders to meet Union home minister and senior party leader Amit Shah. A few days ago, Shah also met leader of opposition DevendraFadnavis and former state minister AshishShelar, separately. Both Patil and Shelar are considered close to Shah. Significantly, Shelar has been touring the state and meeting local party leaders.

According to the BJP insiders, if the party decides to replace Patil with a new state unit chief, Shelar and former state minister ChandrashekharBawankule would be the frontrunners. Shelar, who is from the Maratha community, is known for his aggressive style of functioning, while Bawankule is a known OBC face. Considered close to Union minister NitinGadkari, Bawankule was denied a party ticket in the 2019 Assembly elections. He could be back in contention now as the party is looking for an OBC face, especially when state Congress president Nana Patole has turned aggressive, particularly in the Vidarbha region where BJP has a traditional base among voters, prominently the OBCs.

However, Fadnavis said there will be no be changes in the organisational set up. “No organisational changes are going to take place in the state. There was a cabinet reshuffle, and leaders are going to Delhi to meet and greet the new ministers in the ministerial council and also to discuss issues that are related to Maharashtra,” Fadnavis told mediapersons on Saturday.“There is also no discussion on in the party over changing the state BJP president. Existing chief ChandrakantPatil is performing very well. The party and the high command are standing along with him,” he added.