BJP Hopes To Blunt Criticism By Fielding Kulkarni & Gopchade

BJP Hopes To Blunt Criticism By Fielding Kulkarni & Gopchade

Move aimed at placating critics who say party is giving preference to defectors like Chavan

Kalpesh MhamunkarUpdated: Thursday, February 15, 2024, 11:45 AM IST
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Who Is Medha Kulkarni? Former Kothrud MLA Is BJP's Nominee For Rajya Sabha Polls From Maharashtra | X/@Medha_kulkarni

The BJP’s decision to field former MLA Medha Kulkarni and RSS worker Dr Ajit Gopchade as its candidates for Rajya Sabha elections from Maharashtra is seen as an attempt to mollify those who believe the party is giving preference to defectors. The party on Wednesday fielded former Congress stalwart Ashok Chavan as a candidate for the polls. Chavan’s candidature did not evoke much surprise as speculation was rife since he crossed over to the BJP that he would get a Rajya Sabha berth.

Kulkarni was denied a ticket from Kothrud constituency in 2019

Chavan, Kulkarni and Gopchade are expected to sail through given the strength of BJP legislators in the 288- member assembly. In the case of Kulkarni, the BJP wants to rehabilitate her politically and placate the unrest among the Brahmin community in Pune district. A former corporator and an academic, Kulkarni was denied a ticket from Kothrud constituency in 2019. She had won the seat after contesting for the first time in 2014. The BJP dropped its sitting MLA to make way for then state party president Chandrakant Kulkarni. The decision left Kulkarni shocked and she had made her displeasure known to party leaders, but despite the humiliation, she campaigned for Patil.

The former MLA expressed gratitude to the party on Wednesday. “I have experience of corporation and Vidhan Sabha. Now I will get a chance to work in the Rajya Sabha. I was vicechairperson of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha at the national level. In that capacity I toured several places in India. I will fulfill my responsibilities honestly,” she said. Gopchade, a doctor, hails from Nanded district and has enjoyed a long association with the RSS/BJP. By nominating him, the BJP seems to have reached out to the Lingayat community in Maharashtra.

The BJP had recommended Gopchade for the legislative council polls in May 2020

Gopchade is the head of the Maharashtra BJP doctors’ cell and was also named to the party committee for the G-20 Summit programmes. The BJP had recommended Gopchade for the legislative council polls in May 2020. He had even filed the nomination papers but at the last moment, the party changed its decision and replaced his candidature with that of Ramesh Karad, a confidant of the late Gopinath Munde and his daughter, Pankaja Munde.

The other two members of the ruling Mahayuti alliance, the Shiv Sena (Shinde) and the NCP (Ajit Pawar), fielded Milind Deora and Praful Patel, respectively, as their candidate. “Our core group has decided to field Praful Patel as candidate for Rajya Sabha. We have discussed the hurdles that can be removed. Ten leaders of NCP had shown their interest for the Rajy Sabha but the core committee after discussing all the aspects, decided the name of Praful Patel,” the state president of the NCP, Sunil Tatkare, said.

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