The success is a relief for Devendra Fadnavis whose leadership has been questioned.
New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit in Maharashtra has got new energy after the results of the Maharashtra Legislative Council in which it won four out of six seats that included Nagpur, the home district of former CM and BJP’s face in the state Devendra Fadnavis. The results have strengthened his hold over the state unit which was going down when the saffron party lost the Legislative Council polls last year, including seats in the Vidarbha region (which includes Nagpur).
In those polls, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), the ruling alliance consisting of the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Indian National Congress (INC), won four seats out of six. In these polls whose results were declared last week saffron party’s candidate and close aide of Devendra Fadnavis, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, won the Nagpur local bodies Legislative Council seat, defeating Mangesh Deshmukh, a Congress supported candidate. While in the Akola-Washim-Buldhana MLC local bodies seat, BJP’s Vasant Khandelwal defeated Shiv Sena’s Gopikishan Bajoria by over 100 votes. Sena’s Gopikishan Bajoria was MLC from the last three terms. The voting for these seats was held on 10 December.
Representatives for four other seats, two from Mumbai, were declared winners unopposed, because other candidates withdrew their nominations at the last moment. From Mumbai seat, Amrish Patel and Rajhans Singh were elected while from Kolhapur, Congress Satej Patil was elected unopposed.
Devendra Fadnavis called it the success of the BJP and argued that the MVA government would not complete its term. Talking to The Sunday Guardian, Mumbai based political commentator Satish Thakur said, “The MLC polls are generally fought by the candidates, we should not read much from it. But yes it is true that Devendra Fadnavis’s stature had improved within the BJP after the results. Since the last one year it was looking that the high command may want to promote a few new leaders along with the former CM but now he is in a comfortable position.”
As Chief Minister between 2014-19, Devendra Fadnavis emerged as a strong leader in the state and in the process sidelined many prominent leaders from his own party. The saffron party’s victory in its traditional stronghold of Nagpur is very significant at a time when the state Congress president is also from the same region and it seemed Congress is making significant gains in the state. In the 2019 Assembly polls, the saffron party won seven seats, while the Congress got three seats from Nagpur.
In the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, the BJP won 105 seats on its own while Shiv Sena which fought the election in an alliance with the saffron party won 56 seats but later joined the NCP-Congress alliance to form the government. Congress had won 44 assembly seats while the Nationalist Congress Party won 54 seats. The state had a total of 288 assembly segments. One Nagpur-based BJP leader said, “This year we lost the zilla parishads and panchayat samitis, bypolls in Nagpur, our leadership was involved in those small polls. It sent disturbing signals to Mumbai and Delhi. But now with the victory in this prestigious seat, we are back with a bang.” In the Nagpur Zilla parishad bypolls, the BJP had only three of the 16 seats and in the panchayat samiti polls won six out of 31 seats. Now, the bottom line is clear with the victory that Devendra Fadnavis remains the undisputed leader of the party in the state.