BJP weighs caste, gender and alliances in MLC polls

The centre-state worked whole night to settle the council seats in wake of pulls and pressure from within as well smaller allies.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai | Published: January 20, 2015 8:14:24 pm

The state BJP women president Smita Wagh emerged as the surprise candidate in the elections for the state legislature council (MLC) in Maharashtra. The decision to accord MLC seat to Wagh who hails from Jalgaon in North Maharashtra got preference over other aspirants due to caste factor. Wagh represents Other Backward Community. The BJP also wanted to give woman representation in state council which is male dominated.

The all India party president Amit Shah gave the final nod to Wagh’s candidature thus ending the pulls and pressures that was witnessed within the state unit for the MLC elections. The state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve had sent a list of candidates for centre’s consent which was given the nod on Tuesday morning.

The BJP wrested all four MLC seats in its favour because of favourable number in the state assembly. However, BJP took the decision to accommodate its allies Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Samaj Party and Shiv Sangram in three out of total four seats.

The industries minister Subash Desai (Shiv Sena), Vinayak Mete (Shiv Sangram) and Mahadeo Jankar (Rahstriya Samaj Party) have been accorded the MLC seats. But the decision for fourth seat for BJP candidate was most difficult with three probables — state women president Smita Wagh, chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari and state treasurer Shaina NC.

The chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “ The MLC elections once again reestablish the strength of the grand alliance (Mahauti) in Maharashtra. We accommodated our smaller allies in the MLC.”

However. MLC elections has left some aspirants within alliances as well party unhappy.

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana’s Sadabhau Khot has expressed unhappiness for being denied the MLC. Khot said, “ The BJP has betrayed us. They gave seats to other allies but left us out.” The RPI chief Ramdas Athavale conveyed he would not insist for MLC provided he is accomodated in centre as minister of state (MoS).

The SSS lead by president Raju Shetti had recently agitated against the centre and state over sugar prices to farmers. A BJP general secretary said, “ We had a total four MLC seats. Out which we gave three to allies. We fielded BJP in only one seat. What more can the party do?” The Raju Shetti’s aggressive stand against centre and state has not gone well within the BJP.

A senior cabinet minister revealed to Indian Express, “ At the outset the decision was taken to give three seats to the allies and one for BJP. And within BJP it was decided that the candidate should belong to scheduled caste, scheduled tribe or other backward caste (OBC).” As a result they had to weed out a lot of other candidates whose names were also in the reckoning. There were 16 aspirants out of which four were serious contenders for a lone seat that came in way of BJP.

The senior minister for revenue and minorities affairs Eknath Khadse had pushed the candidature of Smita Wagh. In a candid admission Khadse said, “ Yes, Wagh hails from my district Jalgaon in North Maharashtra.

She has risen from rank to become the state women cell president last year.”

Mete and Desai’s who have stepped in council mid-term will get short period upto 2016. However, Jhankar’s term will be for next two years. Which means the elections for the MLC in atleast three seats will follow within a span of two years.

Fadnavis tried to pacify the party aspirants promising to give them opportunities in the coming years. Sensing Bhandari has served the party for several years Fadnavis held a meeting with him in his chamber at Vidhan Bhawan. Fadnavis assured he would consider his case next time.

However, several party workers believed Bhandari who is well versed with state politics and issues should have got to represent state council.

However, Bhandari refused to comment on the developments.

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