Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule on Sunday said Devendra Fadnavis should become the chief minister of Maharashtra, giving Opposition parties a chance to corner the ruling alliance and sending CM Eknath Shinde camp into damage control mode.
“Till I am the state BJP president, Devendra Fadnavis should be the chief minister,” said Bawankule at a function in Nagpur where the deputy CM was in attendance.
Bawankule said Fadnavis has ensured justice to every community which has approached him. “So, it is our responsibility to get him installed as the chief minister,” he said.
Bawankule further said, “We don’t want to install Fadnavis on the highest post just for the sake of it…But for change the fortune of Maharashtra.”
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Attempting to play down the statement, CM Eknath Shinde camp emphasised on the unity of the ruling alliance. “There is no need to give too much importance to one statement. No matter how much people try to create a rift, the BJP and our Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena will fight the 2024 elections together,” said minister Shambhuraj Desai, who belongs to the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena.
While Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, who is also the Opposition leader in the state assembly, termed Bawankule’s statement as BJP’s “internal matter”, party MLC Amol Mitkari said the words assume significance as they come on the eve of the state legislature session. “It means the leadership of Shinde is not acceptable to the BJP rank and file. The Shinde camp should take the statement seriously. BJP might be planning to bring an end to his tenure,” he said.
“Earlier too, Chandrakant Patil had made a similar statement at a function. Even Shinde himself had described Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra’s popular chief minister. Shinde and his group has surrendered to the BJP which is desperate to instal Fadnavis as the CM,” Mitkari added.
State Congress chief Nana Patole said, “The Shinde camp should take a cue out of the statement made by Bawankule.”