At a time when the state unit has been vying for attention ahead of assembly polls, the omission triggered speculation on whether it was a message from the central leadership
If pictures speak louder than words, the poster at the BJP’s state executive meeting was practically screaming about the confusion within the party on who will lead it in the upcoming assembly polls.
While state-level leaders like Devendra Fadnavis (second from right), made it to the podium, they couldn’t traverse the distance to the all-important backdrop. Pic/Nimesh Dave
At the meet held in Andheri Sports Complex, which had leaders from across the state in attendance, the poster which made up the backdrop had only three faces Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister and party chief Rajnath Singh and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
At a time when the BJP state unit has been trying to attract the attention of the party’s central leadership and wants to focus on all 288 assembly seats, the absence of all Maharashtra-level leaders of the poster was seen as a message from the centre.
In light of Gopinath Munde’s recent demise, it also became a source of disquiet during the meet, starting out as whispers among party workers and then becoming an open debate.
While it is known among BJP workers that state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis is the BJP central leadership’s choice to lead the state assembly elections, other leaders have been leaving no stone unturned to let people know that their hats are also in the ring.
Eknath Khadse is the seniormost leader, but his health problems have ensured that he has been understood to have withdrawn himself. Leader of the opposition in the state council, Vinod Tawde, however, has been trying to project himself as ideal candidate for the top job if the BJP assumes power.
Asked about this, a state office bearer said, “The party does not want to bring up the issue of state leader right now. It has already been decided to project Fadnavis, but the official announcement will be made sometime later.”
Gadkari in charge?
Observers have noticed that Nitin Gadkari seems to be slowly taking over the reins of the state unit as it’s in-charge on behalf of the central leadership — a position once enjoyed by the late Pramod Mahajan.
During his visit to the city last week, Gadkari held discussions with senior leaders to discuss preparations for the upcoming elections. The discussions centered on issues that the party could bring up during the polls and the number of seats it was prepared to fight on.
In this context, Fadnavis made a significant tweet yesterday. He said the party would prepare for all 288 seats because doing so would help the BJP in seats contested by it, and alliance partners in seats contested by them.