With One-Fifth of its Candidates From Political Families, BJP Also Succumbs to Dynasty Politics in Maharashtra
In the BJP's list of 152 candidates, 30 are leaders from political dynasties among which is Nitesh Rane, who was once a Congress-loyalist.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis waves at supporters during a roadshow for BJP candidates for Maharashtra Assembly elections, at Vashi in Navi Mumbai. (Image: PTI)
For a long time now, the BJP’s top leaders have targeted the Congress, NCP and other opposition parties nationally, over dynasty politics. BJP’s working president J P Nadda had earlier even declared that the party is about ‘karyakartavaad’, and not about ‘parivarvaad’. However, a quick perusal of BJP Maharashtra’s candidates list shows how this party has now given over one-fifth of its tickets to leaders hailing from political dynasties.
The list also consists of several “imported” dynasts – family members of erstwhile Congress-NCP loyalists, who jumped boat to the BJP recently. A whopping one-fifth of the BJP’s candidates are dynasts.
The BJP is contesting on 152 seats in the state. Another 12 seats have been given to the smaller allies, who will be fighting under the lotus symbol. Of the 152 candidates, 30 are dynasts, many of whom are the relatives of disgruntled leaders who denied tickets.
Take the example of Nitesh Rane, the son of former Congress leader Narayan Rane. The Ranes are bitter enemies of the Shiv Sena, a hostility marked by bitter feuds and even bloodshed between the followers of Balasaheb and Rane in the last decade.
Despite knowing about their acriminous relations, the BJP did not just induct Rane junior and Rane senior into the party but also issued Nitesh a ticket to fight against Sena in Kankavli. The BJP also propped up a candidate from the Rane family in a bid to make forays in Konkan (coastal Maharashtra), which has been a Shiv Sena stronghold. It was only some time ago that the Ranes, along with other a few BJP leaders had been targeted for the “corruption” and “misuse of power”.
Rane isn’t the only Congress leader to jump ship. The dynasty of once-Congress loyalists, the Vikhe-Patils, have decided to turn over to the BJP camp. After intense infighting between allies Congress and NCP during the Lok Sabha elections had left senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil upset, the BJP grabbed the opportunity to approach and win over her son Sujay Vikhe Patil by giving him a Lok Sabha ticket.
Happy with the offer, Sujay’s father too joined the BJP a few months later. Not only was Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil immediately inducted into the cabinet, but he was also been given a ticket for the Assembly polls. It is interesting to note that Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil was the leader of the opposition in Vidhan Sabha for nearly four and a half years, and had raised issues against the same BJP government he is a part of today.
The BJP’s main strategy has been the systematic annihilation of the NCP top ranks consisting of its chieftains Vaibhav Pichad, Rahul Narvekar, Jagjitsinh Patil, Ganesh Naik, Namita Mundada. “It was very hurtful when Jagjitsinh Patil left. After all, he is family,” Ajit Pawar admitted in a candid moment. Rana Jagjitsinh Patil, now BJP’s candidate from Tuljapur, is the son of NCP’s ex-minister Padmasinha Patil. He is Ajit Pawar’s brother-in-law.
Ganesh Naik, a close aide of Sharad Pawar, holds keys to the Airoli, Navi Mumbai belt. He was inducted in the BJP along with his son, and was also given a ticket despite internal opposition. BJP’s Colaba candidate Rahul Narvekar is the son-in-law of the chairperson of the Legislative Assembly, Ramraje Nimbalkar.
In a particularly embarrassing incident, Namita Mundada, a young leader from NCP, left the party to join the BJP, a day after Sharad Pawar personally announced her candidature from Kej. Namita, the daughter-in-law of ex-minister Vimal Mundada, is now BJP’s candidate from Kej.
Sameer Meghe, Atul Bhosale, Vaibhav Pichad, Vijaykumar Gavit, Sambhaji-Patil Nilangekar, Monica Rajale are some other examples of leaders from political dynasties who are contesting under the saffron flag.
But it isn’t just about the turncoats. Even from within the ranks of the BJP, tickets have been given to dynasts. Take the case of Rohini Khadse, daughter of prominent OBC leader and sitting BJP MLA Eknath Khadse. After his name did not appear in the four lists published by BJP, he threw a tantrum. His workers said they will work against the BJP. The dominant Leva Patil community in Muktainagar pledged to vote against the saffron party. To placate him, the party offered a ticket to his daughter Rohini. Khadse’s daughter-in-law Raksha is already an MP from that constituency.
Pankaja Munde, who has gotten a ticket for another term, is the daughter of ex-Union minister late Gopinath Munde. Akash Fundkar, who has been given candidature from Khamgaon, is late BJP minister Bhausaheb Fundkar’s son. BJP’s Bhokardhan candidate Santosh Danve is the son of Union minister Raosaheb Danve. Ex-Maharashtra minister Vishnu Savra’s son, Hemant Savra, is the party’s candidate from Vikramgad, Devyani Pharande is the daughter-in-law of N S Pharande, another veteran BJP leader.
The Congress pales in comparison to the BJP with only 20 dynasts in its list of 146 candidates. Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena is fighting on 124 seats and has 14 dynasts while the NCP has 12. It is fighting on 117 seats.
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