BJP tries course correction in Maharashtra polls

Decision to field OBC leader seen as bid to reconcile with its core vote in Vidarbha

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to nominate OBC leader from Vidarbha and former Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule as one of the five candidates for the biennial election to the Maharashtra Legislative Council is seen as party’s attempt to reconcile with its core voter in the region. Two out of five BJP candidates are Congress-turned-BJP leaders.

Mr. Bawankule, known to be a close aide of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, was unceremoniously denied ticket in the 2019 Assembly polls. The party though managed to win the seat, it did suffer the OBC backlash in number of Assembly constituencies in Vidarbha. Since then, Mr. Bawankule was kept in close tandem with the State leadership and was in the forefront when the row over OBC reservation in local civic bodies erupted.

“Lessons were learnt by the BJP after its defeat in Nagpur graduate constituency election of the Maharashtra legislative council. It cannot afford to neglect OBC leaders in politically most important region for the party,” said senior journalist and political commentator Amey Tirodkar.

Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced the schedule for the biennial election to the Maharashtra Legislative Council from five local authorities for six seats due to retirement of sitting members on January 1, 2022. The election will be held on December 10 and result will be declared on December 14.

The term of eight sitting MLCs is set to expire on January 2022. However with regard to local authorities’ constituencies election, the ECI has laid down the guidelines that if at least 75% of the local authorities in the constituency are functioning and in addition at least 75% of the electors out of the total electorate are available, then electorate is treated as available for electing MLC.

Based on this, only five out of seven local authorities fulfil the criteria leading to election on only six seats, instead of eight.

The seven local authorities include, Mumbai (Ramdas Kadam of Shiv Sena and Bhai Jagtap of Congress), Kolhapur (Satej Patil of Congress), Dhule-cum-Nandurbar (Amrishbhai Patel, Congress-turned-BJP), Akola-cum-Buldhana-cum-Washim (Gopikishan Bajoriya of Shiv sena), Nagpur (Girish Vyas of BJP), Solapur (Prashant Paricharak, independent) and Ahmednagar (Arunkaka Jagtap of NCP).

As per the ECI, elections will not be held in Solapur and Ahmednagar.

While the BJP has chosen its core member, Mr Bawankule, from Nagpur, it has nominated Amrish Patel from Dhule-cum-Nandurbar and Rajhans Singh from Mumbai. Both these are senior leaders from Congress who switched to the BJP before 2019 polls.

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