Recently Vinod Tawde was instrumental in winning municipal elections in Chandigarh. In the abnormal epoch of Punjab politics against BJP, Tawde made it possible. He is one of the old guards of BJP. Throughout his political career, he was persistent with his temperament and approach towards the party and party men. He is one of those leaders who can’t be clipped for long or ignored. Tawde may also play a crucial role in the Punjab Legislative Assembly election, 2022. A Marathi manoos not only caught the nerves of Punjabi people but he could instil faith in them.
Tawde, a simple and subtle man, born in Mumbai’s Girgaon, was a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) since his student days and active karyakarta of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He was groomed by grassroots leaders. Throughout his four-decade-long political career, Tawde has worked in various positions for BJP, making cadre-building and organization his strength. Within the ABVP, Tawde rose from karyakarta (worker) to the organizing secretary of the Mumbai Central Zone, and eventually the All-India General Secretary of the outfit.
In 1995, Tawde took charge as general secretary of the Maharashtra BJP, and in 1999, became the president of the Mumbai BJP. He was the leader of the opposition in Maharashtra’s Legislative Council from 2011 to 2014 and then became an MLA from Mumbai’s Borivali constituency.
Tawde was a cabinet minister in the Fadnavis-led cabinet, in charge of school, higher and technical education and medical education, as well as cultural affairs. In spite of combating various allegations, he maintained his calm and rendered needed explanations.
In 2016, Tawde was also beleaguered by the opposition for being allegedly associated with a for-profit company despite being a minister.
No doubt then the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis defended Tawde out and out when allegations were hurled at him. But in 2016, Devendra trimmed Tawde’s power by replacing the medical education portfolio with Girish Mahajan, a leader said to be close to him. From that time Vinod Tawde maintained peace and quietly remained isolated. He was dropped from the 2019 assembly polls. When all old guards of BJP were side-lined, BJP as a Party could not stand its ground and lost to power against the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance. This was the time even BJP’s war-lords realized their mistakes of ignoring core leaders, who are the basics of the state party. Perhaps by rectifying their mistakes Tawde was made the BJP’s national general secretary. After a long pause, Tawde was suitably rewarded.
No one can deny the fact that he was disheartened but still maintained calm. He is a seasoned politician and hard-core worker; the beauty is that he never puts the party of its leaders in any sort of embrace. His appointment as national general secretary only means that the party needs this in the national scheme of things ahead of elections in major states. He was sent to Punjab and I am sure he proved to be the best at his craft.
After the Late Pramod Mahajan a former Union minister and Gopinath Mundhe also a former Union minister this was the first time that Maharashtra has got a general secretary’s post to its state minister. Mahajan and Munde were appointed BJP national general secretary in 1993 and 1999 respectively. Elevating Vinod Tawde to the post of national general secretary, and nominating Chandrashekhar Bawankule as its candidate for the legislative council, BJP did great damage control because many BJP leaders those days felt ignored and hurt.
Tawde and Bawankule appointments can help the BJP to get caste equations right, with Tawde being from the Maratha community and Bawankule being from the Teli community among the Other Backward Classes (OBC). This was also an indication to Fadnavis that the party wants to keep his power in check.
Moreover, it being unlikely that the Shiv Sena and BJP will align again, it is clear that the party has to travel the distance from 105 to 145 MLAs on its own, and needs the organizational strength of old as well as new faces in the party.
Vinod Tawde was the first leader to demand a separate budget for agriculture and he consistently proposed measures that the government should implement to enhance agriculture productivity and prevent farmer suicides. From mill workers to farmers, he stood strong for their demands and that is the reason he has mass appeal when it comes to rural and urban Maharashtra. He also demanded an SIT probe into wakf land allotments.
He used various legislative devices to compel the government to establish an enquiry committee under the chairmanship of Madhavrao Chitale for the investigation of corruption in the irrigation sector. Vinod Tawde condemned the government’s decision to start a textile park in Baramati; in his opinion, the government should have selected a cotton-producing district to set up the facility. He also opposed the textile policy announced by the government as it was non-beneficial for farmers.
He is one of those working politicians who gave access to the common public by solving their water, gutter, and meter problems. He sponsored many toilets, open gardens, religious places, and community welfare programs from his MLA funds. In his constituency, you will find something or the other thing contributed by him towards the wellbeing of people. BJP is one big national party in the ocean like Indian politics and leaders like Tawde are the anchors, it’s better late than never party holds its guards equally strong.
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