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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

BJP sees heir strikes; family clout, money work in favour

Ahead of the Assembly polls in October, a majority of Opposition leaders the BJP has recently inducted have come from the established political stock.

mumbai Updated: Sep 25, 2019 05:45 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis inductes Navi Mumbai NCP strongman Ganesh Naik along with its 54 Corporators from Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) into BJP during an event held at CIDCO Exhibition Center Vashi in Navi Mumbai.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis inductes Navi Mumbai NCP strongman Ganesh Naik along with its 54 Corporators from Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) into BJP during an event held at CIDCO Exhibition Center Vashi in Navi Mumbai.(Photo: Bachchan Kumar/ Hindustan Times)
         

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has always attacked the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for promoting dynasty politics, in Maharashtra, the ruling party is increasingly relying on political dynasts to improve its tally in the state Assembly polls.

Ahead of the Assembly polls in October, a majority of Opposition leaders the BJP has recently inducted have come from the established political stock.

Consider this. Of the six legislators the BJP inducted last month, four are second-generation politicians, including former NCP MLAs Rana Jagjitsinh Patil, Sandeep Naik, Vaibhav Pichad and Shivendratraje Bhosale.

All four new BJP entrants bring with them family clout and money.

Besides these legislators, former NCP MP Dhananjay Mahadik (Mahadik’s family has been controlling politics in Kolhapur), Congress leader Satyajit Deshmukh, son of former legislative council chairman, Shivajirao Deshmukh have joined the BJP.

Patil is the son of former Congress and then NCP minister, Padmasinh Patil, from Osmanabad, a close aide and relative of party chief Sharad Pawar. Ranajagjitsinh inherited the Osmanabad constituency, his family pocketborough from his father, a seven-term legislator, when he won the 2014 Assembly polls.

Naik is the son of former NCP minister, Ganesh Naik, a former Sena leader, who also joined the party with his elder son former NCP MP Sanjeev Naik. The Naiks’ writ runs large in Navi Mumbai, satellite city of Mumbai. While Ganesh Naik lost the Assembly polls in 2014, he still controls the civic body here. Pichad is the son of former NCP minister and senior tribal leader Madhukar Pichad, considered to be a close aide of Pawar, who also switched allegiance.

Bhosale, former Satara legislator, who is said to share his family lineage and legacy with Maratha king Shivaji is the cousin of NCP MP Udayanraje Bhosale. Udyanraje also followed his cousin’s steps to join the BJP last week.

“Wherever we do not have a strong base, our strategy is to poach the strongest existing leadership from those constituencies. While there is a strong mandate in our favour, we also don’t want to keep anything to chance. In Assembly polls, we will get to contest only 150-155 seats due to alliance with the Sena, unlike the last time when we contested all 288 seats, so our strike rate has to be far better, if we have to emerge as the biggest party,” said a senior BJP state leader and minister.

“By getting these heavyweights, we are securing those many seats. Having said this, not more than 25% of our candidates will be from outside,” he said.

Induction of leaders like Naik or Bhosales has an impact on seats beyond the ones held by these leaders, as they have the capacity to influence other constituencies and communities.

While the new entrants have said they joined the BJP to further development, some like Bhosale have been more candid.

“They [Cong-NCP] are unlikely to come to power anytime soon. In such a scenario, I am better placed to fulfil the promises made to my constituency by joining the BJP,” said Bhosale, a three-time NCP MLA.

The BJP has used this strategy of inducting political heavyweights, especially in western Maharashtra, seen as the traditional bastion of the Congress-NCP. The trend of getting political heavyweights from the Opposition started ahead of 2014 polls, but has picked up since through the many small and big elections in the state.

Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the ruling party inducted the son of Congress’s leader of Opposition, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Sujay, and former deputy chief minister and senior NCP leader Vijaysinh Mohite Patil and his son Ranjitsinh.

The move ensured the BJP could win two otherwise difficult seats, Madha and Ahmednagar. Sujay and Ranjitsinh are third generation politicians.

“The irony is that when the NCP was set up in 1999, Pawarsaheb did the same thing. He picked up candidates from within the prominent families in each constituency to oppose the sitting Congress leadership. Now, it’s the same families fighting on the other side for the BJP or Sena,” said a senior NCP leader from western Maharashtra, who is also expected to join the BJP soon. While opponents have slammed the BJP for using coercion or bribes to induct many of the dynasts, the BJP has refuted this charge. “None of the people we have inducted so far have any probes against them. We are not giving entry to all who want to join, but are picking a few good leaders. The Opposition needs to introspect why their leaders are joining us and no one wants to stay back,” chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier told HT in an interview in August.