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Maharashtra BJP leaders Vinod Tawde, Pankaja Munde appointed party’s national office-bearers

By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON SEP 26, 2020 11:54 PM IST

Two prominent Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, Vinod Tawde and Pankaja Munde have been appointed as secretaries in the new national executive body of the party announced by party chief JP Nadda on Saturday. However, senior party leader Eknath Khadse has not been accommodated in the executive body.

All three leaders were involved in a power tussle with then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and were unhappy with the treatment they got in the party. While Tawde and Khadse were denied tickets by the party for the 2019 Assembly election, Munde lost the election though she got party candidature. Saturday’s development is seen as their political rehabilitation, though it could be too early to say if it is a snub to Fadnavis, who still calls the shots in the state BJP, according to party leaders who spoke to HT.

Tawde, a prominent Maratha leader, has a base in Konkan and Mumbai. Munde is a prominent Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader in the state. Daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, she hails from Marathwada (Central Maharashtra) region. Both are known for their organisational skills.

There were speculations in the party that all three leaders would be rehabilitated as members of the Legislative Council when the elections for the same occurred earlier this year. However, none of them got party tickets for the elections to the upper house. Now, Tawde and Munde have been politically rehabilitated with roles in the party’s organisational body. Both of them are among 13 national secretaries in the national executive body of the party. Sunil Deodhar, who played a significant role in BJP’s victory in Tripura, and Vijaya Rahatkar, a former chairperson of the state women’s rights commission, are the other national secretaries from Maharashtra. However, Khadse who has been publicly criticising Fadnavis did not figure in the list. There have been speculations that Khadse is in touch with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leadership and exploring his options.

“Though the post of secretary in the national executive body is as important as that of the general secretary, it is surely a political rehabilitation for Tawde and Munde. It is a signal by the party leadership that they are being given importance in the party,” said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity. While there were speculations that the move is a signal by party’s top leadership to Fadnavis that it is not happy with his handling of things in Maharashtra, a senior leader and former state minister said: “It is too early to say whether this is a snub to Fadnavis. The decision to deny a ticket to Tawde or not send both of them to the legislative Council was not taken entirely by Fadnavis.”

Fadnavis who calls the shots in the state BJP has a clear say in deciding key appointments in the state unit.

Following the announcement, Munde tweeted, “Thanking all party Central Leaders Hon PM Shri @narendramodi ji, Home Minister Shri @Amitshaha ji for believing in me and our National President Shri @JPNadda ji for including me in his team. It’s an honour for me..@blsanthosh ji, @v_shrivsatish ji. (Sic).”

Among the other Maharashtra BJP leaders, Jamal Siddiqui will head the minority morcha while MP Hina Gavit has been appointed as a national spokesperson.

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