Mumbai: BJP Leadership's Decision To Drop Sitting MPs Sparks Discontent Among Party Members

Mumbai: BJP Leadership's Decision To Drop Sitting MPs Sparks Discontent Among Party Members

Both of them rose up the ranks as corporators and were later elected with impressive margins in the 2019 LS polls. They had grassroot level contacts and were always available to the public.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Thursday, March 14, 2024, 10:01 PM IST
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Mumbai: The BJP central leadership's decision to drop two sitting Mumbai M.P.s Manoj Kotak and Gopal Shetty from its list of candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections has not gone down well with the party rank and file.

This is because both Kotak and Shetty were widely acknowledged as performing M.P.s. Both of them rose up the ranks as corporators and were later elected with impressive margins in the 2019 LS polls. They had grassroot level contacts and were always available to the public.

In Shetty's case he was removed apparently because Mumbai north was a "safe seat" for the BJP. Former Union minister Ram Naik had assiduously nurtured this sprawling constituency and apparently PM Modi wanted to ensure that his close associate Goyal is guaranteed a win. In fact, Mumbai north is the only seat in Mumbai where the BJP is organisationally very strong.

In 2019 in a highly surprise move sitting M.P. from Mumbai north-east, the high-profile Kirit Somaiya, was denied a ticket and Kotak, who was a relatively lesser-known corporator, was fielded by the party. Now Mihir Kotecha, MLA from Mulund, has been handpicked for the slum-dominated Mumbai north-east seat.

In 2014 he contested from the Matunga MLA seat and was defeated by Kalidas Kolambkar, who is now in the BJP. Former M.P. Kirit Somaiya's name was also considered, but the video tape incident went against him. Big builder and Ghatkopar MLA Parag Shah was also in the running for this seat, but a section of the party from Ghatkopar opposed his candidature.

Indications are that sitting M.P. of Mumbai north-central Poonam Mahajan may be replaced with the popular city BJP president Ashish Shelar. Ms Mahajan is the daughter of the late BJP veteran Pramod Mahajan, but it was felt that she was not sufficiently active in her constituency. Shelar is known to be close to the Union home minister and apparently the latter wants him in Delhi so that he can be given bigger responsibilities.

In South Mumbai, most probably the BJP ticket will go to Speaker of the state legislature Rahul Narwekar who has proved to be a major asset for the party. He is a lawyer by profession and enjoys goodwill even in opposition ranks.

In Beed the BJP has replaced sitting M.P. Preetam Munde with Pankaja Munde. The latter was neglected for a long time by the party leadership, specially by deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who felt that she is nursing chief ministerial ambitions.

However, of late she was taken into the party mainstream since she is a prominent leader of the Vanjara community which has sizable presence in several constitutencies of Marathwada and Vidarbha.

She is also an articulate leader with a mass base. As a minister in the state cabinet she was allegedly involved in the chikki scam, which she suspected was raised by some of her own partymen.

Raksha Khadse, daughter in law of former BJP veteran Eknath Khadse. She was elected twice from Raver constituency in Jalgaon district. Khadse Sr quit the BJP following differences with Fadnavis and he joined the NCP. But the party has retained Raksha lest she be wooed by the NCP.

There are indications that MLA from Andheri Amit Satam may be considered for the Mumbai north west seat. A devotee of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living, he has been very active in the constituency. Except for a former corporator, almost all the cadres of the party support his candidature.

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