Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections, scheduled to take place later this year, BJP on Tuesday made new appointments to the post of party chief for the state and Mumbai city units. OBC leader Swatantra Dev Singh took over the reins of the party unit in Uttar Pradesh.
While Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil was named as Maharashtra party chief, MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha will take charge of the Mumbai city unit.
Patil replaces Rao Saheb Danve, who resigned from the post earlier today. Lodha, a builder and richest MLA, comes in as a replacement for Asish Shelar, who was inducted into the state Cabinet on Sunday.
As per BJP constitution, a party leader cannot continue to hold the same post for more than two terms. But Shelar had served as the president of the Mumbai unit for the last six years.
“I request the party to appoint a full-time state president for strengthening the party organisation. I need to focus on my ministerial portfolio and responsibilities,” Danve said while announcing his resignation as the state unit president
Patil, believed to be the number two in the state Cabinet, has his task cut out with the state going to polls in just a few months time.
In the 2014 Assembly polls, BJP had emerged as the single largest party by winning 122 seats. The saffron party went on to form a coalition government with the support of the Shiv Sena, which had won 63 seats.
Meanwhile, in Uttar Pradesh, OBC leader Swatantra Dev Singh will replace Union Minister Mahendra Nath Pandey as state chief.
Pandey was inducted in the Union Cabinet, necessitating a change of guard in the state. Singh, a Kurmi, is one of the influential backward castes in the state.
His appointment is seen as part of the BJP’s effort to consolidate its support among the OBCs, who strongly backed the party in the state Assembly and recent Lok Sabha polls.