While the Munde-Gadkari era of factionalism within the state BJP came to a close with Gopinath Munde’s sudden demise in June, two new warring groups have taken their place, indicating that the disease is likely to fester.
Meet the contenders: While an all-out war is yet to break out, supporters of Devendra Fadnavis (right) and Vinod Tawde (left) have been locked in a bitter Cold War
Party leaders said that while state BJP president Devendra Fadanvis seems to have taken over the Munde camp, leader of opposition in the legislative council, Vinod Tawde, has set up another faction. And, while an all-out war within the groups is yet to break out, a Cold War is on nearly perennially, marked by ploys, contrivances and the trading of real and imagined slights.
“Post the Lok Sabha elections, there weren’t groups in the party’s state unit as even Munde and Gadkari had sorted out their differences. However, camps have been on the rise again in the past month. With assembly elections drawing close, everyone wants to portray himself as the leader of the party, and a potential CM candidate.”
While both Tawde and Fadnavis, during the recently concluded state executive meeting in Andheri, denied that any camps existed in the party, Tawde used his speech to bring up the issue of party workers using social media to try and project various leaders in the state for the top job. Tellingly, he mentioned the slogan, ‘Delhi mein Narendra, Maharashtra mein Devendra’, that has been doing the rounds of the city and the state for a few months. Tawde said some slogans relating to him were also doing the rounds and asked party workers to refrain from doing so.
The meeting also threw up several other controversies. mid-day had reported yesterday (‘No state-level leader on BJP meet poster’) on the poster for the meet having photos only of Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, and how the absence of all state-level leaders had rattled the Maharashtra unit.
Yesterday, a member of the Fadnavis camp spoke to this paper and alleged that the arrangements for the state’s décor were in the hands of the Tawde camp and, thus, Fadnavis’ photo was left out despite him being the state president. Leaders like party spokesperson Madhu Chavan and general secretary Sujit Singh Thakur had spoken during the meet on the need for the party to go it alone in the state assembly polls.
Even this caused a flutter — while members of the Fadnavis camp alleged that this was done to put the party in a fix ahead of the polls, the Tawde camp said it was done to wrest more seats from the Shiv Sena.
Another leader from the Fadnavis camp insisted that the state party president had the blessing of none other than Narendra Modi himself, and the other faction was simply digging its own grave by opposing him. “Recently, the other camp put up posters across the city about the rail fare hike, which didn’t have photos of any leader from the Fadnavis camp. Ignoring the state party president isn’t a good sign, and Delhi doesn’t like it,” he said.