Mumbai : The stepping down of Nitin Gadkari as BJP president will have a multiple impact on State politics. On the one hand, his exit has come as good news for the Shiv Sena and the BJP’s senior leader, Gopinath Munde. On the other hand, the news has upset NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, MNS supremo Raj Thackeray and the state BJP president, Sudhir Mungantiwar.
After Gadkari became the national BJP chief, he systematically sidelined senior leader Gopinath Munde . Frustrated with this, Munde tried to cross over to the Congress. But his plans did not materialise. BJP patriarch L K Advani persuaded him to stay on. Now, Munde is likely to enjoy complete support from Advani and Rajnath Singh. Munde has hinted that the first casualty will be the party’s state unit president Mungantiwar, who is supposed to be very close to Gadkari. Pandurang Fundkar, who is a close confidant of Munde, was shunted out from his position as Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, under pressure from Gadkari. Now, Munde wants to see Fundkar as the BJP state unit president. As Fundkar is also an OBC leader and a veteran, it seems likely he will get a chance.
Gadkari had adopted a strategy to tackle the Shiv Sena head on. He created a political storm when he alleged that Sena leaders were not accessible to him. He was trying to bring the MNS into the NDA fold and favoured an alliance with the former. Raj Thackeray’s affinity for Gadkari was evident as he expressed unhappiness over Gadkari’s ouster.
Sharad Pawar and Gadkari are known to be close friends in political circles. Pawar came to his rescue in the mysterious death of seven-year-old Yogita Thakre, who was found dead in Gadkari’s car in Nagpur. During the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the political rapport between them would have helped Pawar cause damage to the Congress, with backdoor support from the BJP. Now, this may be a difficult task.
Gadkari’s announcement to contest from Nagpur has also made Chandrapur Lok Sabha MP Hansaraj Ahir very happy, as Gadkari had earlier hinted that he would contest from Ahir’s constituency.
” His ouster will also start a new war between the RSS and the BJP. The RSS and Gadkari may ensure the defeat of a few BJP candidates during the elections. Now, BJP will defeat BJP,”‘ observes veteran journalist and political commentator Kumar Ketkar.