Ahead of the Maharashtra assembly elections, the BJP Tuesday appointed Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil and party MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha as presidents of the state and Mumbai city units, respectively. While Patil has replaced Raosaheb Danve, who resigned as the Maharashtra BJP chief after his induction into Union cabinet, Lodha, a builder and the richest MLA, will take place of Ashish Shelar who was recently appointed as a minister in the state government. As per BJP constitution, a party leader cannot continue to hold the same post for more than two terms.
Shelar had served as the president of the Mumbai unit for the last six years. “I request the party to appoint a full time state president for strengthening the party organisation. I need to focus on my ministerial portfolio and parliamentary responsibilities,” Danve said while announcing his resignation as the state unit president. Sources said that Patil, believed to be the number two in the state Cabinet, has the task cut out for him to ensure that the BJP retains power with an improved mandate. The elections for the 288-member House are due in September-October this year.
Patil hails from Kolhapur district in western Maharashtra, once a stronghold of the Congress and the NCP. With Patil’s appointment, the presidents of the state units of the BJP, the Congress and the NCP now hail from the western Maharashtra region. While newly-appointed state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat comes from Ahmednagar district, his NCP counterpart Jayant Patil belongs to Sangli district.
Lodha represents Malabar Hill constituency in south Mumbai. In 2014 assembly polls, the BJP had emerged as the single largest party by winning 122 seats. The saffron party went on to form a coalition government with the support of the Shiv Sena, which had won 63 seats. In the recently-held Lok Sabha elections, the BJP retained its 2014 tally of 23 seats in Maharashtra, which sends 48 MPs to Lok Sabha.