BJP has dumped the Gujarat model of replacing old guards and former ministers by giving chances to new faces in the cabinet expansion. Instead, the party, which plays a second fiddle despite a strength of 105 legislators plus 10 independents and smaller parties, has preferred a mix of veterans and young ones in a bid to strengthen the coordination between the government and the party organisation ahead of next Lok Sabha and state assembly elections slated for 2024.
A newly inducted minister admitted that there was a thinking in the party to include legislators with more than three terms and bring in new faces on the lines of Gujarat pattern. "However, the central party leaders have approved a mix of experienced hands with new faces as Maharashtra with 288 assembly seats and 48 Lok Sabha seats is very important. BJP proposes to win 170 plus seats with Shinde camp in the assembly and maximum Lok Sabha seats," he told the Free Press Journal.
Another minister said that BJP has launched Mission 45 for Lok Sabha seats together with Shinde camp. "Newly inducted ministers will play a major role in providing necessary help to the local leaders from all 48 constituencies. Increasing the tally of BJP and Shinde camp is crucial especially when the party proposes to win 350 plus Lok Sabha seats in2024 elections,’’ he noted.
The notable induction is of a real estate baron and six-term MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha with an eye on BMC. BJP has already launched Mission 2022 to win BMC elections with the Shinde camp and thereby defeat Thackeray-led Shiv Sena which has ruled the civic body for almost 30 years. The party has already stepped up the voters’ outreach and also undertaken a slew of programmes exposing the alleged corruption during the Shiv Sena led BMC. Lodha’s elevation is also aimed at increasing the party's presence in non Marathi speaking voters.
However, the party has taken a cautious decision not to induct legislators and veterans like Chandrashekhar Bawankule, Pravin Darekar, Bhai Girkar, Prasad Lad who hail from the state council and also former minister Ashish Shelar. Bawankule may be made the state unit chief while Shelar will be made for the second time Mumbai unit chief to spread the party's wings in the state and in Mumbai respectively. Shelar, who was school education minister in the Fadnavis led government, maybe considered for the post of state president.