Chandrakant Patil stays Maha BJP chief
Former revenue minister and party’s Maratha face Chandrakant Patil has been reappointed the chief of Maharashtra unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while businessman-politician Mangal Prabhat Lodha has again been made the head of the Mumbai unit.
The decision to continue with Patil and Lodha, first appointed to these posts in July last year only three months before the state Assembly polls, is an endorsement of the existing party leadership in Maharashtra, despite the loss of power in the state due to the Shiv Sena’s exit from the NDA fold after the BJP’s not-so-spectacular performance in state polls. The party state and city presidents are elected for a five-year term in the office.
“BJP national president JP Nadda has appointed Chandrakant Patil as the president of the Maharashtra Pradesh BJP. He has also appointed Mangal Prabhat Lodha as the city BJP president,” said the communication by BJP national general secretary Arun Singh on Thursday afternoon .
The appointments have been made three days before the meeting of the party’s state executive on Sunday in Navi Mumbai.
While Patil’s reappointment does not come as a surprise, Lodha’s appointment has raised eyebrows in the light of the high-profile Mumbai civic polls, to be held in 2022.
The Mumbai civic body is seen as the Shiv Sena’s citadel and the BJP has been eyeing to wrest control of the body since the last polls in 2017.
Lodha, the founder of the real estate Lodha Group, is a BJP old hand, but is not seen as an aggressive leader who can take on the Shiv Sena in these elections. He is also not a Marathi face, which may prove to be a hurdle for the party, said a senior BJP functionary.
“The last stint by former city chief Ashish Shelar was eventful because the BJP increased its tally in the BMC from 34 councillors to 82, just two short of the Sena. If we want to win the BMC elections in the 2022 polls, we need a similarly aggressive Maharashtrian face. The general assumption is that Lodha may continue until just ahead of the BMC polls,” said a senior party leader, who did not want to be named.
Former revenue minister Patil, who is seen as a potential chief ministerial aspirant and a rival to former CM Devendra Fadnavis, is known to be close to Union home minister Amit Shah.
Patil, as the organisational head, will now lead the party in the upcoming local self-government polls, starting with Navi Mumbai elections in April this year.