The message from the change of guard in the Maharashtra BJP is that rebels will be checked with sops to their family members, or silenced.
Though Chandrakant Patil is the president of the state unit, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has had a large say in the selection of the six general secretaries and 12 vice-presidents.
A senior BJP general secretary requesting anonymity said, “The message to the cadre is clear. Those who work and deliver will be rewarded. And those who rebel in public will be shown their place.”
The rebellious Eknath Khadse has been checked with the induction of his daughter-in-law Raksha Khadse. Pankaja Munde, who had hinted at quitting the party after blaming BJP seniors for her poll debacle in the Assembly election, has been silenced with the appointment of her sister Pritam Munde as a vice-president. Party insiders say it signals the end of Khadse senior and Pankaja Munde in Maharashtra politics at this moment.
Meanwhile, former energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, who was denied a ticket in the Assembly polls in 2019, returned as general secretary because of the influence he has in the Teli community in Vidarbha. Sidelining him in the last election proved costly for the BJP, which did poorly in an area that many of its Maharashtra stalwarts consider their fiefdom. He has a powerful patron in Nitin Gadkari, who has re-emerged as an important voice at the Centre.
On the other hand, Medha Kulkarni, who was forced to give up Kothrud seat to accommodate Chandrakant Patil in 2019 on the promise of a party post or seat in council, has been overlooked in the present restructuring. Former minister Vinod Tawde, who was denied an Assembly ticket, also was skipped.
Though the reorganisation has not addressed the simmering discontent in the organisation, nobody is speaking out against it for fear of offending the central leadership. BJP political managers described the new team as persons who will deliver their task responsibly without confrontation with the present leadership.
Fadnavis managed to place his supporters as general secretaries — Shrikant Bharatiya (who was OSD in CMO), Sujitsingh Thakur, Ravindra Chavan, aside from Bawankule. Despite the anger in the party against giving tickets to those who crossed over from NCP and Congress, Fadnavis managed to pull off vice-presidentships for former NCP members Prasad Lad, Bharati Pawar, and Chitra Wagh. Fadnavis loyalists Ram Shinde and Sanjay Kute also made it as vice-presidents. Others include Kapil Patil and Jaiprakash Thakur.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the party announced the name of Vishwas Pathak as head of Maharashtra BJP’s media publicity centre. Keshav Upadhya will be the new party spokesperson. Shaina N C has been nominated to board of Prasar Bharati in Delhi.
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