BJP drops bomb on biggies
Ministers Khadse, Tawde, Bawankule, Mehta and Purohit were shown the door by BJP in state
After Eknath Khadse, the BJP high command has denied Assembly poll tickets to other senior leaders from Maharashtra. Ministers Vinod Tawde, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, ex-ministers Prakash Mehta and Raj Purohit are among the big names dropped on Friday, the last day of filing nominations.
A defiant Khadse was mollified after his daughter Rohini was given a ticket from Muktainagar, but supporters of Mehta and Tawde were enraged. Mehta's group went on a rampage in Ghatkopar East where they damaged a car of sitting corporator Parag Shah, who has taken over from Mehta (MLA since 1990). The party's final declaration confirmed that it had dropped 19 sitting MLAs including ministers.
In Borivli, Tawde, who once ran for the CM's post, was replaced by Sunil Rane. Rane has lost two elections in the past and does not stay in the western suburbs. Bawankule was replaced with low-profile party worker Tekchand Savarkar. The minister's wife, Jyoti, too, did not get the party endorsement.
Colaba legislator Purohit who began his six-term career along with Mehta in 1990 when the party had a handful MLAs in Mumbai, handed the baton over to MLC Rahul Narvekar who was poached from NCP. Narvekar is the son-in-law of Ramraje Nimbalkar, the chairman of legislative council and senior NCP leader. Narvekar's entry is seen as an indication of Nimbalkar's induction in the NCP in future.
Party decision accepted
Khadse accepted the party's diktat and changed the track once his daughter was cleared on Friday morning. Appointed as a star campaigner, he said the party had made way for the new generation. "I accept the decision and will not comment any more. I will campaign for the party's win," he said, slamming NCP chief Sharad Pawar for creating doubts over his political moves.
"Pawar is known for confusing people. I said yesterday I was not going anywhere. I'm a BJP worker and will remain one," he said.
Rohini said her father had been fighting for the BJP's growth. "It's an emotional moment for me," said Rohini after filing her nomination.
A visibly upset Tawde told a media conference that he was introspecting. "I think the party will also think about it [the decision] if it is wrong. I don't want to assess the decision today. But will discuss it with party seniors after the elections because I want to clarify whether any wrong information about me was provided. My ministerial work was appreciated by the high command."
"I can work for the people even without being a minister or legislator. I believe in the RSS and BJP ideology that keeps the nation first, party second and the individual last on their priority list," he said. He also appreciated CM Devendra Fadnavis, Chandrakant Patil and Prakash Mehta for trying their best to get him a ticket. "But then the parliamentary board takes decisions. We work as a team. There are no competitors within the party," he said, adding that there were no corruption cases against him. "I have decided to work for winning 2/3rd majority for the BJP," he said.
However, Tawde's supporters reached MP Gopal Shetty's office in Borivli to lodge a protest and demanded that outsider Rane's nomination be scrapped.
Why no collective decision?
Mehta objected to the method of decision-making. He said he wanted the party to take into consideration the opinion of local people before deciding a candidate. 'We should have sat together and arrived at a consensus. I had demanded it but it didn't happen," he said, adding that there were several other party workers who deserved the party's consideration on the basis of their work.
Mehta did not speak about the allegations that he faced while serving as housing minister. The accusations forced his ouster from the cabinet and also from the electoral race, said party insiders, adding that the BJP felt a person who has been there for 30 years shouldn't expect a ticket at the cost of new faces. Purohit was not available for comment
High drama in Nagpur
On a day the CM and others filed his nomination, tension in the Bawankule camp was palpable. The energy minister, who is close to Nitin Gadkari and Fadnavis, didn't get clearance till the last moment. While he stayed with the CM, Bawankule's wife Jyoti filed a nomination from Kamptee but Tekchand Savarkar was made an official candidate in the final list of 164 candidates that also included smaller allies who would be contesting on the BJP's election symbol.
"I'm not ignored. I have been an MLA for 15 years, including five years as a minister. The chief minister wanted me to work in eastern Vidarbha in the elections. My constituency is such that any BJP worker can win easily here," Bawankule said.
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