BJP's Maharashtra balancing act: Why Raosaheb Danve was made the party's new state chief

Mumbai: BJP's appointment of union minister of state and prominent Maratha leader Raosaheb Patil Danve as the new chief of party’s Maharashtra unit on Tuesday is seen as a balancing act by the party after it chose Devendra Fadnavis, a Brahmin, to head the first BJP-led government in the state.

Marathas, who make up around 30 percent of the state’s population, are the largest caste group and politically dominant community in the state. As a result the BJP had to appoint a Maratha leader as the party’s face after it chose a Brahmin candidate for the CM’s post, say political observers.

Danve will replace Fadnavis who had remained state party president even after becoming the chief minister of Maharashtra. At a party conclave held in last week in Mumbai, BJP president Amit Shah finalized Danve’s name after consulting the state leaders and the Maratha leader is now likely to quit from the union cabinet.

Danve has a huge support base in rural areas. Image courtesy:

Danve has a huge support base in rural areas. Image courtesy:

While Danve and Fadnavis belonged the camp of the party that was headed by Gopinath Munde, the new BJP state chief is said to enjoy better ties with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari than the Chief Minister.

Incidentally, the last three Maharashtra BJP chiefs, namely union minister for road and transport, Nitin Gadkari, state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and Fadnavis were from the Vidarbha region. This may have prompted the BJP to choose Danve, who hails from the Marathwada region.

59-year-old Danve had been elected from the Jalna Lok Sabha seat and is currently the Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies. His son, Santosh, is also a BJP MLA from the Bhokardan constituency.

Danve, a  four-time MP, was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1999 and retained the seat in the next three general elections. He was also twice elected to the Maharashtra Assembly from Bhokardan constituency. Danve began his political career as a member of a gram panchayat and then became the local Panchayat Samiti chief.

BJP leaders said that though there were several contenders for the post, Danve has been appointed due to his understanding of state politics, his support base in rural Maharashtra and his experience in the cooperative sector.

Danve thanked the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP president for the new responsibility.

"Since the BJP is in power at the Centre and in state as well, I will try to coordinate between them and will also to provide relief to the common public. I will work to take the state and union government’s work to the people at the grassroot," he said.

Interestingly, Danve is believed to have been uninterested in working in Delhi, especially under Prime Minister Modi and had spoken to that effect soon after he was sworn in as a minister.

“I feel like I am attending school. Everything is punctual in Delhi. I come to office early morning and leave late in the evening,” he had said at a function in Jalna.

Updated Date: Jan 07, 2015 15:21 PM

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