The Shiv Sena’s efforts to consolidate its base across the state and project party chief Uddhav Thackeray as the CM candidate for the upcoming assembly elections has elicited almost no comment or reaction from the BJP camp.
BJP sources say this could have a lot to do with speculation that the party may go it alone in the state polls following its spectacular success in the Lok Sabha elections. Amidst all this, the visit of party general secretary and Narendra Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah, slated for sometime in the next week or so, is only going to add fuel to the fire.
According to a senior office bearer of the BJP, the party has held lengthy discussions on issues such as the elections and finding the right post for Pankaja Munde Palwe (see box), daughter of late Union minister Gopinath Munde. “Modiji is keen on taking Maharashtra in the BJP fold. His emissary Amit Shah will have preliminary discussions with party office bearers during his visit that may happen in the next week or so,” said the office bearer.
That the Shiv Sena has decided to project Uddhav Thackeray as the CM candidate is that party’s internal issue, said senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who is also the leader of opposition in the state assembly. “Any party can project its leader as the CM candidate,” he quipped.
Khadse refused to disclose the BJP strategy but party sources said they are evaluating all options, including going it alone. It is a great time to expand the party base, said a BJP leader. “Our cadre has been sitting idle in places where the Shiv Sena is dominant because we are in alliance. But things may change now,” he said.
Pankaja in Cabinet?
At a party meeting yesterday, the BJP top brass decided to nominate Pankaja Munde-Palwe as a member of the core group of the state unit. She will join in place of her late father, Union Rural Development Minister Gopinath Munde, who died in a road accident in New Delhi on June 3.
During the meeting, it was also decided to recommend her as the party nominee for the Beed Lok Sabha seat, where a by-election will take place soon. “We are going to request the party’s central unit to induct her in the Narendra Modi Cabinet,” said a senior leader.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will attend the condolence meeting to pay homage to Gopinath Munde at NCPA on Saturday. Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu will attend a similar meeting being organised in Pune on Sunday.