The BJP central leadership has conveyed a strong message to ministers to get back to development agenda and refurbish their image ahead of the 26 crucial municipal corporation elections from early 2017 in Maharashtra.
On May 23, the Maharashtra BJP will hold a meeting to draw detailed plans including programmes across 36 districts to commemorate the completion of two years of the government at the Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the last 19 months, several ministers landed themselves in controversies. The list includes Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, Education Minister Vinod Tawde, Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde, and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Girish Bapat. However, all of them denied charges of graft or violation of rules in awarding purchase contracts. While Khadse was dragged into the controversy over his “PA’s” arrest by the ACB, Tawde got into trouble over a fake degree, Munde for alleged violation of norms in chikki contract, and Bapat over tur dal price rise.
- His plot finally unravels, Maharashtra’s revenue minister Eknath Khadse loses his job
- Maharashtra Cabinet expansion in June, portfolios of senior ministers likely to be downsized
- RSS asks BJP ministers to support Sangh programmes
- Fadnavis appoints Guardian Ministers for all 36 districts
- Devendra Fadnavis’ team: Portfolios allocated; BJP retains key departments
- Devendra’s first team: Four CM aspirants, one Amit Shah confidante, one Modi man
According to a senior central party functionary, “The top leadership is not very pleased with the developments and expects the senior ministers to exercise caution in their conduct both in terms of administration and matters related to corruption.”
The incident of senior minister Eknath Khadse adopting an aggressive posture after Anti-Corruption Bureau officials arrested his personal aide Gajanan Patil is being debated within the organisation. It was felt that ministers should act firmly instead of airing personal grievances against each other in public. It is being compared with the arrest of deputy secretary (home) by ACB. It helped to instill a message of government seriously cracking the whip against corruption.
Sources from Delhi said party president Amit Shah was seized of every development in Maharashtra. “And it has been categorically conveyed that there would be no room for simmering discontent which spills into dissent often being voiced in public,” said a leader.
The election results in five states are being cited to focus on development agenda to expand the organisational base in their respective regions.
Though assembly elections in Maharashtra are scheduled in 2019, local bodies elections will be crucial for the government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Apart from intra-party challenges, alliance partner Shiv Sena is at loggerheads with the BJP.
Taking advantage of the BJP-Sena divide, the Congress, the NIP and the MONS are gearing up to reaffirm their foothold through local bodies elections.
Sena MPA Sanjay Raut warned, “The assembly results in five states show regional forces have emerged stronger. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have not been able to decimate regional parties.”
Inspired by West Bengal and Tamil Nadu results, the NIP has also swung into action to set its own house in order. It has convened a meeting to discuss the roadmap ahead.
According to a Union cabinet minister, “The Modi government is willing to go to any length to provide support to the Fadnavis government. But our real concern is the ability of every department to measure to the expectations and deliver results.”
Political managers in the party said Modi’s meeting with Fadnavis was a loud and clear signal to all dissidents within the government and party. Though the agenda discussed related to deferment of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), the larger message was to thwart the efforts allegedly under way by some ministers to work at cross purposes against Fadnavis.
Insiders said Beed district members displaying their support to Khadse through public rally and highlighting the faction within had also been noted by the central leadership.
Notwithstanding factionalism within, top leaders have conveyed that “corruption at any level could not be endorsed”.