Khadse’s exit exposes discontent over BJP sidelining OBC leaders

Eknath Khadse  

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Eknath Khadse’s decision to quit the party, which he served for 40 years, has brought to the fore the discontent within the State unit over the sidelining of leaders from the OBC community, a core voter base of the party.

Mr. Khadse was a product of the BJP’s social engineering programme in the 70s and 80s to attract OBC voters, with its Madhav (Mali, Dhangar and Vanjari) formula. Mr. Khadse has categorically put the blame on the Leader of Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis, and clarified that he has no ill feelings against the party and its leadership.

In the 2019 Assembly polls, Mr. Khadse and Chandrashekhar Bawankule, another OBC leader from Vidarbha and former power minister, were denied party tickets. Mr. Khadse’s daughter was then given the ticket at the last moment.

There was also speculation that Pankaja Munde, daughter of the late Gopinath Munde, would switch parties as she was unhappy with the functioning of Mr. Fadnavis, the then CM.

With Mr. Khadse joining the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the party hopes to regroup its lost strength in north Maharashtra and gain the support of the Leva-Patil community. NCP State president Jayant Patil has said another 12 BJP MLAs are in touch with the party and are likely to switch sides soon.

Reacting to the development, Mr. Fadnavis said Mr. Khadse was dealing in half-truths. He said, “I have nothing to comment as he wants to make a villain out of someone. The BJP is a big party and it won’t stop if one person leaves it. Jalgaon is a stronghold of the BJP and its people are with the party.” He added that no MLAs would leave the party.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 11:45:03 PM |

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