Mumbai: With the induction of Ashish Shelar, the Mumbai unit chief of the BJP, into the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet on Sunday, the party has launched a hunt for a new face to lead the key unit ahead of the state Assembly polls.
The saffron party also has to find a suitable candidate to lead the state unit as its incumbent chief Raosaheb Danve has been appointed as a Union minister in the Narendra Modi government. In the state cabinet expansion on Sunday, Shelar, former Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and former NCP leader Jaydutt Kshirsagar, who had joined the Shiv Sena recently, were among the eight who were sworn in as cabinet ministers.
BJP loyalist and two-time MLA Yogesh Sagar, who belongs to the Gujarati community, was made a minister of state (MoS). Sagar represents the Charkop assembly constituency in Mumbai. Mumbai city alone has 38 assembly seats.
With the resignation of Prakash Mehta as the Housing Minister in the wake of alleged negative report of Lokayukta over his involvement in Tardeo MP Mill Compound slum redevelopment case, the total number of ministers from Mumbai has now become six. Of the six, BJP has two cabinet ministers and MoS each, while ally Shiv Sena has one cabinet and MoS each.
The BJP-led government's tenure will be over by November this year and the state polls are expected to be held between October and November. Shelar has already served as the head of the party for two consecutive terms. As per the party rules, anyone can be the chief of the party's local unit for two consecutive terms only. Besides, one person cannot hold two posts simultaneously.
Among those whose names are being discussed presently for the Mumbai chief's post include newly-elected MP from Mumbai North East seat, Manoj Kotak and Vile Parle MLA Parag Alvani. According to party leaders, the process will pick up only after the BJP appoints a new national president as existing party chief Amit Shah has become Union Home Minister.