Maharashtra BJP president Raosaheb Danve’s induction in the government at the Centre has set the stage for a change of guard in the organisation ahead of the Assembly elections in September-October.
On Thursday, Danve was administered the oath of office as a minister of state in the Narendra Modi government.
A total of seven ministers, including four cabinet and three MoS rank, from the state took oath on Thursday. The other BJP faces in the cabinet from Maharashtra are Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goyal and Sanjay Dhotre. Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant and Republican Party of India’s Ramdas Athawale also made it to the council of ministers.
Former Union minister for railways and commerce and industries Suresh Prabhu did not find a berth. But BJP sources hinted he may be considered in second reshuffle or given new responsibilities at the Centre.
The overall representation of BJP candidates shows that the centre-state leadership has emphasised continuity. Almost all senior Union ministers holding Cabinet rank in Modi 1 regime were considered for new responsibilities in the Modi 2 government.
Dhotre, a senior MP, had contested from Akola. His was considered a suitable replacement for former minister Hansraj Ahir who lost the elections from Chandrapur. In the current Cabinet, both Gadkari and Dhotre represent the Vidarbha region.
A senior BJP leader said, “Danve’s tenure as BJP state president had come to an end in January. But the party wanted him to continue keeping in mind the Lok Sabha elections. Now, the question is whether the party should retain him or find a replacement for the Assembly polls.”
Among the frontrunners to head the state BJP is party general secretary Surjit Singh Thakur. However, the organisational change will also be linked to Cabinet reshuffle in the state, sources said. “The organisational elections of the BJP will take place shortly,” said a party leader.
“Danve’s induction was expected. In 2014, Danve, who represents Jalna in Marathwada region, was made the minister of state with the charge of consumer affairs, food and public distribution. However, his ministerial tenure was curtailed and he was made state BJP president,” another leader added.
The change was necessitated following the party’s decision to make Devendra Fadnavis the chief minister of Maharashtra in November 30, 2014. Fadnavis was then the state BJP president.