MUMBAI: After the announcement of its first list of candidates for the October 21 assembly election the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra faces major challenge in containing dissidents.
In a mood to defy party line, senior leader Eknath Khadse filed his nomination on Tuesday though his name did not figure in the first list, while many other dissidents are camping at residences of senior leaders like state BJP chairman Chandrakant Patil in Mumbai and union minister Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur.
Party workers who had been demanding a local candidate went on to block the national highway in Latur district on Wednesday.
In Mumbai, speculations are rife among BJP workers about the former NCP leader Rahul Narvekar being fielded from the Colaba constituency instead of sitting the MLA Raj Purohit. This has left several party loyalists restless.
Party workers from several other constituencies from all over Maharashtra have camped outside state party chief Chandrakant Patil’s residence in Mumbai.
Party’s sitting MLA from Udgir in Osmanabad district has been camping outside Patil’s residence in Mumbai since the BJP’s list was published.
His supporters even tried to stop Patil’s car on Wednesday. Patil’s close friend from the ABVP days and senior minister from Mumbai, Vinod Tawde, is also among the restless after his name didn’t figure in the first list. He too called on Patil today.
Patil himself is facing stiff opposition from Kothrud in Pune where the party has decided to replace sitting MLA Medha Kulkarni. In Nagpur, supporters of sitting MLAs, who have been denied ticket by the party, are camping outside Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence.
The party, however, tried to underplay it.
“In the first list of 125 candidates, the party has repeated 97 of the sitting MLAs. Only 12, who joined the party recently have been given ticket. Most of them have come with their own constituencies where BJP had little presence. Hence, there is little room for rebellion,” said Madhav Bhandari, party’s chief spokesperson in Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, to add to the BJP’s woos, its ally RPI (A) on Wednesday claimed that it has been assured of six seats by the BJP’s central leadership. Party leader union minister Ramdas Athawale, who made the announcement also released a list of six candidates for these constituencies. However, two of these six seats belong to two other allies, Shiv Sena and Rayat Kranti Party. This may add to the BJP’s existing problems.