Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gopinath Munde’s camp is sharpening its knives against party president Nitin Gadkari after the party’s poor show in the municipal council elections.
Out of the 2,992 seats in 132 councils that went for polls, the BJP won 189 seats.
But Munde has swept the polls in his home turf — Parli Vaijnath municipal council in his Beed Lok Sabha constituency — without any alliance. Even as Munde supporters, who feel sidelined in the party, are rejoicing over the win, they have begun to question the party’s performance under Gadkari's leadership. Questions are being raised on why the BJP failed to retain its hold in Maval region despite farmers' agitations and allowed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) a cakewalk.
Officially, the trends so far in the 132 municipal council elections indicate that the BJP, along with its alliances, has retained its hold in 16 municipal councils. But it has fallen short of expectations despite massive anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress and NCP. "We need to analyse the results. We need to ascertain the shortcomings," said Vinod Tawde, BJP general secretary. "But it would be wrong to state we have performed badly."
Munde’s close aides, on conditions of anonymity, told DNA: "The final picture will be clear in a couple of days when local alliances will come into play for forming the municipal councils after results for all councils are out on December 16 and 17."
The results so far have proved that the party has not gained much by keeping a mass leader like Munde out of local bodies elections. Munde's supporters blame Gadkari for sidelining their leader in home politics. When Munde is kept away from state politics, his grassroots workers are affected too, they said. Officials are trying to underplay the Gadkari-Munde rivalry factor in the local polls.
Several party leaders admit that they could have performed better in Marathwada. However, results in Vidarbha, Gadkari's home turf, have been satisfactory. But in western and north Maharashtra, the result was nothing to boast about compared to last civic elections.
"The party had contested only 1,917 seats out of the total 4,088 seats that comprise 168 municipal corporations. As and when final results are out we will cross the 400 seats," said Madhav Bhandari, BJP leader.
Along with its alliance partners Shiv Sena and RPI, the BJP will have a majority in at least 16 municipal corporations. "I admit our expectations were higher. But the NCP's performance is being exaggerated. There are several candidates who don't contest on party symbols. But once they win, they are co-opted by the ruling Congress and NCP."
Gopinath Munde camp turns heat on Nitin Gadkari - Mumbai - DNA