The BJP has reportedly initiated a damage control exercise to diffuse an intra-party “unrest” in two of its strongholds — Jalgaon and Dindori Lok Sabha constituencies — in north Maharashtra, and “warned” its leaders against any anti-party activities.
After the party decided to replace sitting MPs A T Nana Patil (Jalgaon) and Harshchandra Chavan (Dindori), the two leaders attributed the development to an ongoing power tussle between senior party leader Eknath Khadse and water resources minister Girish Mahajan, also the state guardian minister.
Patil has been replaced with sitting BJP (MLC) Smita Wagh on Jalgaon parliamentary seat, while in Dindori, former NCP vice-president Bharati Pawar — who joined the BJP recently — has replaced Chavan.
North Maharashtra with six seats and Vidarbha with 10 are considered to be the BJP’s bastions. According to party sources, any attempt by the “disgruntled” leaders, if left unattended, could be exploited by the NCP.
Recently, the party’s organisational general secretary Vijay Puranik had held discussions with both Patil and Chavan to diffuse their “anger”.
A senior party functionary, requesting anonymity, told The Indian Express, “The BJP has evolved a mechanism whereby the organisation secretary or general secretary has been entrusted the task of resolving the in-house rebellion or anger.”
Earlier, Patil had gone public stating that he was become a victim of “regional politics” — in north Maharashtra, Patil was always been perceived to be a close associate of Khadse.
Underplaying the backlash, Mahajan said, “We always have a multi-tier system for selection of candidates. The final decision is taken by the parliamentary board consisting central leaders after adequate consultations with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the party’s core committee. Therefore, no guardian minister can suo motu take a decision on any candidate.”
The central and state BJP has a team which thoroughly goes through various parameters before determining a candidate, Mahajan, who has earned the tag of being CM’s trouble-shooter, said.
Meanwhile, sources said that state leaders had informed Patil and Chavan that “elective merit” was the lone criteria for their replacement. The leaders were reportedly also told that voicing discontent in the public would not be tolerated in the organisation.
Earlier, when Chavan expressed disappointment at being denied ticket on Dindori seat, he was reportedly told that he had to be dropped because of an anti-incumbency against him. Chavan, who represents the tribal community, is a three-term MP.
So far, BJP has dropped six sitting MPs. They are from Pune, Latur, Ahmednagar, Solapur, Dindori and Jalgaon.