Ahead of the crucial Assembly elections, power tussle within the state BJP has come to the fore as many in the party are asserting their leadership to wield control in the organisation.
On Thursday, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde announced that Union Minister for Rural Development Gopinath Munde would lead the poll campaign in Maharashtra.
Tawde’s statement created a stir with many wondering how Munde would be able to hop between Delhi and Mumbai shouldering the twin responsibilities.
Sources in the BJP said nothing was formal at the moment. “Those trying to drop names are engaged in power positioning. (Nitin) Gadkari and Munde are already our senior leaders who have greater responsibilities to shoulder in the government,” said a party leader.
It needs to be seen if Prime Minister Modi allows Munde to take a break for five to six months to focus on Maharashtra, or the party prefers a non-controversial new leader like state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis taking charge of the campaigning.
Tawde’s assertion of Munde leading the Assembly election campaign is also being perceived as a game plan to project his own leadership in the state. It is no secret that Tawde wants to contest from Borivali or Mulund Assembly seat.
A senior functionary based in New Delhi told The Indian Express: “We are aware of the power tussle within the Maharashtra BJP. A formal decision on who should lead the Maharashtra campaign will be taken considering the sentiments of the cadre and in larger interest of the party.”
Sources indicated that ability and acceptance would override other factors.
Earlier, speaking to the media, Tawde said: “I have submitted a list of Maharashtra projects, namely Navi Mumbai International Airport and B R Ambedkar’s memorial in Indu Mills, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I personally held a meeting with Modi a day after he took charge to push the pending projects, to which he has given his consent.”
Matters related to projects caught in coastal regulation zone (CRZ) were also listed high on Modi’s agenda, he added. Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Eknath Khadse too met all important Union ministers to pursue the same projects, along with issues related to his constituency in North Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena too has started asserting its leadership role in the alliance in Maharashtra. On Thursday, Sena reiterated that Uddhav Thackeray would be the chief ministerial candidate of the party in the Assembly elections.
Sena-BJP to share tenure?
In response to questions related to seat sharing and power sharing, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council, Vinod Tawde said: “There are various formula we can look at. It is possible that we can have a two-and-a-half-year rule led by a BJP chief minister and the remaining tenure led by a Shiv Sena chief minister.”