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BJP Leadership, Partners Will Take Care of Mahayuti’s CM Face: BJP State Chief Bawankule

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There has been no discussion so far on who will be the chief ministerial face of the ruling ‘Mahayuti’ coalition in Maharashtra assembly polls due later this year, said state BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule on Wednesday.

The party’s central leadership and alliance partners will take the call on it, he said, asserting that Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis remains the leader of his party in the state.

Bawankule was talking to reporters at Nagpur airport on his return after attending the BJP’s core group meeting in Delhi on Tuesday.

He said they discussed the reasons for the below-par performance of Mahayuti, comprising the BJP, the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and the NCP under Ajit Pawar, in Maharashtra and why its vote share was left behind by 0.3 per cent compared to the Maha Vikas Aghadi.

In the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, the Mahayuti bagged just 17 of the state’s 48 seats, with the BJP’s tally coming drastically down to nine from the 23 (it won in 2019). By contrast, the MVA—the bloc of Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT), and NCP (SP)—won 30 seats.

“We discussed how we can work towards filling that gap in the coming state polls,” he said.

Asked if Fadnavis would be the CM face of the alliance, Bawankule said their focus is on the development of the people of Maharashtra, unlike the “Maha Vikas Aghadi, which has five-six CM aspirants”.

“Whenever a decision (over the CM’s face) will need to be taken, our central leadership, Maharashtra in-charge Bhupendra Yadav and Ashwini Vaishnaw and Mahayuti leaders Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar, will sit and decide,” he said.

Asked about BJP leader Girish Mahajan’s comment that Fadnavis won’t resign from the post of state home minister, Bawankule said their MLAs and the state unit have urged him to continue and help the BJP.

“We understand that he has accepted our appeal. We also understand that the BJP’s central leadership has accepted this appeal,” he said.

Bawankule was also asked about NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar’s recent statement that it was his duty to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for MVA’s good performance in the Lok Sabha polls, as wherever the PM held roadshows and rallies, they won from there.

Bawankule said, “Modi ji may have said just a word, but the opposition has been using indecent language against him for the past one and a half years and the people of Maharashtra have taken note of it. Pawar Saheb should also analyse how MVA leaders made personal attacks on Modi ji.” He said the BJP will take out a ‘Dhanyawad Yatra’ across the state to thank the voters.

Asked if NCP chief Ajit Pawar would stick with Mahayuti for the assembly polls, Bawankule said the alliance partners would have to do good work and move on. About the apparent rumblings within the NCP over Chhagan Bhujbal, the BJP said it won’t be proper for him to comment on that.

To a query on the BJP’s criticism of state Congress chief Nana Patole over a video showing a worker of the grand old party washing his feet, Bawankule called it “British rule mentality.” “He has insulted his post and should do some introspection about it,” he added.

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