In the backdrop of the unexpected political developments in the state, the BJP’s Pune unit is, in a bid to keep its flock together, planning to appoint leaders who have joined the party in the last few years to crucial positions in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Most of these posts were held by party loyalists since the 2017 civic polls.
On Thursday, the BJP directed three of its senior corporators in the PMC to step down from their posts and make way for other corporators of the party. While Srinath Bhimale has been asked to resign as the leader of the House, Sunil Kamble and Siddarth Shirole have been directed to resign from the posts of standing committee chairperson and PMPML director respectively. Kamble and Shirole won the recent Assembly polls from Pune Cantonment and Shivajinagar seats, respectively.
“The appointment of leader of house, chairperson of standing committee and PMPML director will be done after the existing office-bearers step down,” said a BJP leader.
He said the party will be careful while appointing new office-bearers as its choices will have an impact on the next civic polls in 2022. “The Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP are in power in the state, so it is obvious that some leaders will switch sides before the next civic polls. It is important to maintain the increased party strength at a local level by ensuring no leader in the civic body feels ignored or disappointed, and enjoys some power,” added the BJP leader.
After winning the Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections in 2014, the BJP, in a bid to come to power in the PMC for the first time, had inducted leaders from all its rival parties. The move paid off as the BJP won 99 of the 164 seats and came to power in the civic body. But the party entrusted its senior and loyal leaders, instead of the newly-inducted leaders, with most of the crucial positions in the PMC.
Senior BJP leader and city MP Girish Bapat has been fighting for the loyalists while the faction of ‘imported’ leaders, supported by Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade, had failed to get plum posts in the civic body.
Recently, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil was instrumental in getting party loyalist Murlidhar Mohol elected as the Pune mayor, after Mohol played a prominent part in getting Patil elected from the Kothrud Assembly seat.
But the changed political scenario in the state — the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP have joined hands to form the government while the BJP is in the opposition — has made party leaders realise the importance of holding on to those leaders who joined the party in the last few years.
The party is also facing pressure to accommodate those leaders who wanted party tickets to contest the Assembly elections, but didn’t get one, in prominent posts in the PMC.