Gadkari exit paves way for Munde in state

The change of guard in BJP is likely to herald changes in the organisation in Maharashtra.

The denial of a second presidential term to Nitin Gadkari threatens to upset the power dynamic in the state unit, which had taken his continuance for the next three years for granted.

Deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde will try to reassert himself in Maharashtra politics.

Munde, a perceived arch rival of Gadkari, has been complaining for a while of being sidelined in decision-making on matters related to Maharashtra. The senior state leaders who share a good rapport with Gadkari include leader of opposition in the assembly Eknath Khadse and leader of opposition in legislative council Vinod Tawde.

State BJP chief Sudhir Mungantiwar and MLA Devendra Fadnavis, though neutral, were handpicked by Gadkari to play an active role in Maharashtra politics. A long list of backroom players moved to the Gadkari camp in the recent past.

Most Munde loyalists such as Raj Purohit have been on the back foot.

Although Gadkari always exercised caution to ensure he does not appear partial, the Munde camp has been getting secondary treatment.

Munde raised the issue with the leadership, after which the BJP central parliamentary board made him incharge of Maharashtra campaign for the 2014 assembly and parliament elections a few months ago.

However, response from the state unit (Gadkari camp) was lukewarm. All top-rung state leaders are already queuing up in Delhi to meet new president Rajnath Singh.

A senior leader said: "It is a fact Gadkari continuance would have provided cushion as we were all used to his style of functioning. There was rapport as he has base in state. Now, we will have to make a fresh beginning with Rajnath Singh."

Both Gadkari and Munde camps are likely to position candidates to ensure reins of Maharashtra do not slip from their hold. Gadkari, who will contest the coming parliamentary election from home turf Nagpur, would want his most-trusted and loyal workers in key positions.

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