MUMBAI: Uncertainty hangs over the fate of six sitting BJP MPs from Maharashtra after their names were missing from the first list of Lok Sabha candidates declared by the party on Wednesday evening.
The state had elected 22 BJP members to the Lok Sabha in 2014. In the first list, the BJP has given tickets to 14 of its current Lok Sabha members from Maharashtra while two others have been replaced.
Of the sitting MPs, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Hansraj Ahir and Dr Subhash Bhamre have got another chance as expected.
After a long-drawn negotiation with the Shiv Sena’s Arjun Khotkar, state BJP president Raosaheb Danve’s name too is there on the list as the BJP candidate from Jalna. Disgruntled senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse’s daughter-in-law Rakhsa Khadse’s candidature was considered to be in danger. But she too has been able to secure her seat in North Maharashtra.
However, Dilip Gandhi, the current Lok Sabha member from Ahmednagar, and Sunil Gaikwad from Latur are not there on the list. Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil has been fielded in place of Gandhi from Ahmednagar, while Sudhakar Shrungare – a civil contractor and BJP’s current ZP member– has been chosen for Latur.
A decision on six sitting Lok Sabha MPs is still pending. Among the six, Kirit Somaiya from Mumbai North East Lok Sabha constituency has been a popular leader and is very active in the constituency, following up on issues and getting public amenities like the railways and other infrastructure approved for areas under his constituency. However, the party leadership is not in favour of him.
The central parliamentary committee of the party is said to have asked the state committee to put forward an additional name other than Somaiya’s which had already been suggested. The Shiv Sena is unhappy with Somaiya, as he had directly targeted the Thackeray family with allegations of corruption in matters related to BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and had stated that Shiv Sena workers would work against the BJP candidate if Somaiya or any of his family members is fielded.
Somaiya had also staged a demonstration against the Modi government’s decision to hike Mumbai local ticket rates in 2014. That too has gone against him, party sources have said. The BJP might field Praveen Chheda, the corporator from Ghatkopar who has returned to the party fold. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal could also get a chance from the seat.
Another major candidate whose fate remains uncertain is Anil Shirole from Pune. Shirole’s name was opposed from the grassroots level as he was not too active in the past five years. The name of Girish Bapat, a minister in the Maharashtra government, too was making the rounds even as the Rajya Sabha MP and real estate baron Sanjay Kakde expressed his wish to contest the seat.
He had even threatened to join the Congress, but now his wife is likely to be fielded against Supriya Sule from Baramati. In Solapur, sitting MP Sharad Bansode is unpopular and hence the BJP leadership is said to be searching for strong names to fight these two important seats.
After a controversial clip of Jalgaon MP A T Nana Patil went viral a few days back, the BJP leadership might decide to field his daughter-in-law Bharti Patil. Though she was the NCP’s state women cell chief, she joined the BJP on Thursday after she was denied a ticket by the NCP. BJP’s MP from Palghar Rajendra Gavit’s fate too is in limbo. His constituency has gone to the Shiv Sena as part of the alliance agreement. It now needs to be seen whom the Shiv Sena fields from that constituency.