The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Maharashtra chapter has elected yet another leader from Vidarbha as its state president.
Forty-eight-year-old lawyer, Sudhir Mungantiwar, a four-time legislator from Vidarbha, was named state BJP president after being elected unopposed at a meeting of the party’s state executive in Jalgaon on Friday.
Mungantiwar, who represents Ballarpur in the state Assembly, takes over from Nitin Gadkari, who was appointed the party’s national president four months ago.
“My thrust will be to attract youth to the party and ensure that this corrupt regime of the Congress-NCP is overthrown,” Mungantiwar told Hindustan Times after his appointment.
A fiery orator, Mungantiwar is from a trading community called the Arya Vaishya [known locally as Komti].
The grassroots leader is active in the agitation for a separate Vidarbha state.
Mungantiwar takes over the state BJP at a time when it is at its lowest in state politics. The party’s relationship with its ally, the Shiv Sena is also going through a rough patch. Mungantiwar’s pro-Vidarbha stance also contradicts the Sena’s view on the issue and his ability to handle a volatile partner like the Sena are yet to be tested.
Mungantiwar, however, is unapologetic about his demand for a separate Vidarbha. “It is a fact that our party has been in favour of smaller states,” he said.
“I have spoken about Maharashtra’s growth. Where is the harm if Vidarbha is made a separate state and prospers too?”
Mungantiwar’s election also marks a generation change in the party’s state leadership after Gadkari and senior leader, Gopinath Munde moved to national politics.
Sources in the party said the Gadkari camp wanted to appoint legislator Vinod Tawde as state president, but the rival Munde faction was in favour of Raosaheb Danwe, a Maratha leader from central Maharashtra.