Nine who made Fadnavis’s first cut

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 01 November 2014 | 22.23

They are an eclectic mix: former leaders of opposition from the legislative assembly & council, an erstwhile president of the BJP's Maharashtra unit, the scion of a prominent political family, an astute RSS strategist, a first-time MLA as well as a six-term veteran, a tribal leader from the state's youngest district, besides OBC representatives. For now, the CM will steer the state with these seven men and two women.

Eknath Khadse | 62

Known as a no-nonsense leader. Was the Opposition's booming gun in the assembly as opposition leader from 2009. Has had a long innings in state politics. Held the crucial finance portfolio in the Shiv Sena-BJP government between 1995 and 1999. Khadse is also a big Sena baiter and was chosen as the man by the party leadership to break the news to Uddhav Thackeray that the BJP was discontinuing its alliance with the Sena after seatsharing negotiations failed before the October 15 assembly polls. Tried to lobby his case for chief ministership by saying that northern Maharashtra has never had its own CM, and claimed the people there demanded that someone from the region should lead the state. But did not succeed. Then tried again on the day of Fadnavis's election as legislature party leader. This was seen within the party as his attempt to position himself in such a way that he would get a plum portfolio.

Prakash Mehta | 55

This Ghatkopar East MLA will represent the crucial Gujarati quotient in the state cabinet. Has had a long innings in the party and this is his sixth term as legislator from the Gujarati-dominated constituency. Has served as Mumbai unit chief of the BJP; in that role, in 2007, he had demanded a separate ministry for Mumbai and had drawn criticism from the Shiv Sena which had then said that this would the first step towards separating Mumbai from Maharashtra. Was a minister in the Sena-BJP government in the 1990s. Clad always in kurta-pyjama, Mehta, known to be a follower of Gopinath Munde, has robust political wisdom and good organizing abilities.

Pankaja Munde | 35

The BJP's Gen Next OBC leader. Has emerged as her father, the late Gopinath Munde's political heir with full force after his death in June. Groomed by her father, she has represented the Parli constituency in Beed district since 2009 and helped consolidate the party's support base in Marathwada, one of the state's under-developed regions. Good speaking skills. Showed a penchant for stirring up controversy by stating recently that she would like to be CM. Like a good politician, Pankaja also quickly retracted her statement and said her words had in fact been distorted by the media. That her stock has risen in the BJP is clear from the fact that Devendra Fadnavis himself issued a clarification on her behalf to the media, saying she had called him and told him how she had been misquoted. Has a good rapport with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who declared support for her in the ass e m b l y polls.

Dilip Kamble | 52

As a child, Dilip Kamble sold garlands at Swargate bus terminus. He joined the ABVP and later the BJP. He contested elections for the first time in 1995 from Parvati, a reserved constituency and a Congress bastion. He defeated the Congress candidate Sharad Ranpise, which earned him the 'giant killer' tag. He got a berth in the Shiv Sena-BJP cabinet as minister of state for social welfare. But after the alliance lost in 1999, he put his political career on the back burner and joined his brother's construction business and moved out of Pune. Though not politically active for over a decade, he stayed busy securing employment opportunities for Dalit youths and in the process established a strong network with the Dalit community. Fifteen years later, the BJP sprung a surprise by fielding him from Pune Cantonment (which was reserved this time), another Congress stronghold for years - against Ramesh Bagwe, the former minister of state for home.

Vinod Tawde | 51

Has chutzpah and political pragmatism. Braved many crises in the past, and emerged stronger in the party. Groomed by the state BJP's stalwarts Pramod Mahajan and Gopinath Munde. Can be trusted to resolve knotty issues. Was leader of opposition in the legislative council from 2009. His detractors both within the BJP and outside always said that he had never won an election, but Tawde silenced them this time by winning the Borivli seat with a 79,000-plus margin, the highest in Mumbai. The margin was seen as even more impressive in view of the fact that his was one of the few constituencies the Sena had "targeted". Won points with the top BJP leadership when he said BJP would not accept any conditionalities on government formation from Matoshree. And then won some more again by retorting, when the Shiv Sena said after the poll results that it had always had respect for PM Modi, that "this means we are not Afzal Khan's army."

Sudhir Mungantiwar | 52

This five-time legislator from Vidarbha is known as a hardcore organization man. Held numerous posts in the party, including the presidentship of the Maharashtra BJP. An eloquent speaker, he won the 'best orator' award in the Vidhan Sabha in 1998. He served as cabinet minister for tourism and consumer protection in the Sena-BJP government in 1999. The BJP's central leadership in New Delhi was unhappy with him recently when he pushed for Nitin Gadkari as CM even when it was clear that the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine wanted Fadnavis for the top job. However, the party leadership cannot ignore his credentials as an OBC leader.

Chandrakant Patil | 62

Chandrakant Patil, originally from Khanapur village of Bhudargad tehsil in Kolhapur district, grew up in Mumbai as his father worked in Bombay Dockyard. He joined the ABVP when he was doing his graduation and worked as a full-time worker with it for around 13 years. He was the national general secretary of ABVP when NDA formed a government for the first time. He was then asked to strengthen the BJP's base in Maharashtra, an assignment he carried out with full vigour. His work and political understanding helped the party grow its base in Western Maharashtra, a region opposed to the BJP for decades. He first became an MLC in 2008.

Considered politically shrewd, he was credited for getting NCP MLC Sanjay Patil from Sangli to join the BJP when he arranged his meeting with Gopinath Munde. Patil won the election, and became the first BJP MP from Sangli. Chandrakant Patil also got Congress MLC Mahadev Mahadik's son Amal to join the BJP, who contested against Congress leader and minister of state for home Satej Patil. Mahadik won, boosting Patil's stature in the BJP.

Vishnu Savara | 64

The BJP's tribal face in the Adivasi-dominated Palghar district. A farmer by profession, this five-time MLA is among the poorest in the new House: he has assets worth less than Rs 90 lakh and liabilities worth Rs 24 lakh. Known to be down-to-earth and noncontroversial and to enjoy a good rapport with BJP's grassroots-level activists. Has helped to spread the party network in the Wada, Palghar and Vikramgad areas, say party sources, despite a shortage of monetary and other resources. Is associated with some educational trusts which run schools for poor children in the district. Had represented the Bhiwandi Rural constituency before the delimitation exercise of 2008 but the switchover to Vikramgad was smooth and successful.

Vidya Thakur | 52

Vidya Thakur is a former deputy mayor and four-time corporator from Malad. She was elected deputy mayor in 2007 when Shubha Raul of the Shiv Sena was elected mayor. Her husband, Jaiprakash Thakur, vice-president of the BJP's Mumbai unit, lost the 2009 assembly elections against Aslam Sheikh from Malad West. This was the first time she contested an Assembly election and was pitted against Subhash Desai of the Shiv Sena in Goregaon, who was elected twice in a row from the constituency. He was also elected in 1995 but did not contest the 1999 election. strategist,legislative assembly,Fadnavis,Eknath Khadse,BJP's Maharashtra unit

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