Irked by ticket to Sena’s Mhaske, Ganesh Naik supporters resign en masse from BJP | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Irked by ticket to Sena’s Mhaske, Ganesh Naik supporters resign en masse from BJP

May 03, 2024 09:41 AM IST

The resignations, which began on Wednesday, reached their peak on Thursday as Naik loyalists gathered at Ganesh Naik’s office

NAVI MUMBAI: The announcement of the Shiv Sena’s Naresh Mhaske as the Mahayuti candidate for the Thane Lok Sabha constituency has sparked an uproar among supporters of local strongman Ganesh Naik in Navi Mumbai. Sanjeev Naik, the elder son of the former minister, had been preparing for months to contest as the BJP candidate.

Navi Mumbai, India - May 2, 2024:Upset Ganesh Naik supporters quit BJP at Cristal house,Khairne MIDC at in Navi Mumbai, India, on Thursday, May 2, 2024. (Photo by Bachchan Kumar/ HT PHOTO) (HT PHOTO)
Navi Mumbai, India - May 2, 2024:Upset Ganesh Naik supporters quit BJP at Cristal house,Khairne MIDC at in Navi Mumbai, India, on Thursday, May 2, 2024. (Photo by Bachchan Kumar/ HT PHOTO) (HT PHOTO)

In protest, party office-bearers, including former corporators, have resigned en masse, alleging that the party has continuously treated the former minister unfairly. They have threatened to get Sanjeev Naik or someone else to contest as an independent candidate.

The resignations, which began on Wednesday, reached their peak on Thursday as Naik loyalists gathered at Ganesh Naik’s office, where he, along with Sanjeev and his other son, city BJP chief Sandeep, had called them to plan the Lok Sabha campaign. Despite the Naiks’ attempts to pacify the supporters, the enraged loyalists submitted their resignations. Mahayuti candidate Mhaske and MLA Pratap Sarnaik, who had arrived to meet Naik, scuttled for cover, witnessing the opposition there.

The loyalists then marched in large numbers to the BJP Mumbai office, where they met BJP leader Sanjay Upadhyay and spoke to state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule over the phone. They were slated to meet Devendra Fadnavis late on Thursday night.

“We will not tolerate any more injustice against our leader,” said former corporator Ravindra Ithape, adding that 539 office-bearers had resigned. “The Naiks cannot be treated in this manner by the BJP, which has gained because of them. There have been several resignations in Mira Bhayandar as well.”

Ithape alleged that there was “match-fixing” between the two Shiv Senas. “Uddhav Thackeray put up a weak candidate against Eknath Shinde’s son in Kalyan, and Shinde returned the favour by fielding Mhaske, who hardly anyone knows outside of Thane,” he said. “It will be a cakewalk for Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Rajan Vichare.”

The loyalists have not ceased venting about Mhaske’s “shocking” candidature. Netra Shirke, former standing committee chairperson, declared that only Sanjeev Naik was capable of further developing the constituency, and they would field him as an independent candidate. Former corporator Suraj Patil said the Naiks were trying to pacify their loyalists. “But we have respectfully told them that we will not abide by their instructions this time,” he said. “We too want Modi to be PM but Sanjeev Naik has to go to Parliament.”

The Naiks’ close associate Rahul Shinde, who was among the first to resign on Wednesday, also harped on the BJP’s “constant injustice”. “They first denied our leader an assembly ticket from Belapur but we kept quiet and worked for Manda Mhatre as asked by him. Then he was denied a ministry in the cabinet. Now Sanjeev Naik has been denied a ticket. For how long do we take this?”

Belapur BJP MLA Manda Mhatre, known to be at loggerheads with Ganesh Naik, said that the resignation spree had been started by Ganesh Naik supporters in Thane and Mira Bhayandar, who were not “original BJP workers”. “All are new entrants,” she said.

The Naiks themselves are conciliatory. “It is natural for party workers to be upset, but individual statements cannot be those of the party,” said Sandeep Naik. Mhaske too conceded that the loyalists were “naturally disappointed” but added that all issues would be resolved in the Mahayuti.

The BJP’s chorus, that the Mahayuti’s one aim was to make Narendra Modi PM again, was loyally reiterated by everyone. Sandeep Naik declared that they would leave no stone unturned to ensure the victory of the Mahayuti candidate. CM Eknath Shinde repeated the mantra. “There is incomplete information going around,” he said. “Mhaske and Sarnaik have met Ganesh and Sanjeev Naik today and discussed the situation. All will work for the Mahayuti. This is not about one constituency. This Mahayuti is for the country and to make Modi PM again.”

BOX

HEAD: Naik and the BJP

Airoli MLA Ganesh Naik quit the NCP before the 2019 assembly elections to join the BJP along with his Navi Mumbai corporators. Naik has ruled the satellite city for years and led the NCP to victories in the civic, assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

A minister for 15 years, Naik suffered a shocking defeat in the assembly elections from Belapur in 2014. As the Modi wave swept the country, his younger son, Sandeep Naik, first joined the BJP, followed by Naik and his supporters along with Sanjeev Naik.

The BJP denied Ganesh Naik a ticket from Belapur in 2019, fielding incumbent MLA Sandeep from Airoli instead. Sandeep, however, gave up his seat to his father, which Naik won comfortably. After the change in government, he was expected to be made a minister due to his seniority, but it did not happen.

Sanjeev Naik, who represented Thane from 2009 to 2014 but lost to Rajan Vichare in 2014, had started his Lok Sabha campaign months in advance. It was widely believed that he would be the frontrunner if the BJP got the seat. However, with Eknath Shinde holding on to it in his bastion, Thane, Sanjeev’s plans went for a toss.

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