The 55-year-old Maratha is among the six ministers recently dropped from Cabinet
With the Nationalist Congress Party looking to get younger, former Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav was on Saturday unanimously elected party’s Maharashtra unit president. Mr. Jadhav is among the six ministers dropped from the State Cabinet recently. The NCP, for the first time, also elected a working president, Jitendra Awhad — an MLA from Mumbra-Kalwa — and announced a core group comprising the dropped ministers and others to prepare for next year’s elections.
Mr. Jadhav, 55, replaces Madhukar Pichad, who was inducted into the Cabinet as Minister for Tribal Development. NCP president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said there was a generation gap in the party’s State leadership and changes were necessary. Mr. Jadhav thanked the party for its support and expressed regret for his past anti-party activities — it was a “mistake” that he had put up his own panel to rival the NCP’s in the Chiplun municipal council elections in 2011. “I knew I had made a mistake and I would have to pay for it,” he said, adding that the party leadership seemed to have forgiven him.
He said the party should be strong and united even without his ministership. Mr. Jadhav, who is from Chiplun, had to make way in the Cabinet for Uday Samant, NCP MLA from Ratnagiri. For the first time, the NCP elected a working president in Mr. Awhad, who has held several posts in the youth wing of the Congress and the NCP. Mr. Awhad paid fulsome tributes to Mr. Sharad Pawar and asserted his loyalty to the party.
The NCP announced a core group for the elections next year, in which it has included all the five ministers axed from the Cabinet. Mr. Chhagan Bhujbal, who read out the names, said the core group would comprise Babanrao Pachpute, Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, Laxman Dhoble, Prakash Solanke and Gulabrao Deokar — all the dropped ministers — apart from Arun Gujarati, Nawab Malik, Vasant Davkhare, Manda Mhatre, Ramesh Bang, Usha Dharade, Kiran Pawaskar, Kishore Mathankar and Chandrakant Tripathi.