Maharashtra: Murmurs of discontent grow over induction of defectors into BJP

February 21,2024

Murmurs of discontent were growing within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra over the induction of defectors from other parties at the cost of seasoned party functionaries, people aware of the matter said.

A party leader, who did not want to be named, said many old BJP hands feel left out but were not ready to speak up openly. “Like Bhandari, there are many workers who are upset because of the influx of people from other parties at the cost of the welfare of the party workers,” the leader said, referring to state BJP vice president Madhav Bhandari.

Bhandari’s son, Chinmay, earlier wrote on X that his father’s contribution to the BJP has been grossly underestimated. He referred to Bhandari’s role in the party’s growth over 50 years and claimed he has not been adequately rewarded for his capabilities. “My father is a fiery spokesperson who became one of the most prominent voices of anger against the [Congress-led] UPA [United Progressive Alliance] government in Maharashtra from 2008 to 2014. He has done much more than that in the 50 years...he helped build the organisation in various parts of Maharashtra. He joined Jansangh/Janata Party in 1975 and has been working relentlessly since then.”

He added unfortunately Madhav Bhandari remains one of the least rewarded leaders. “12 times in my life, I have seen his name in contention either for assembly or the upper house. And 12 times, it has not been finalised. I am not in any position to question or judge the leadership. I don’t even want to do that. Because, like my father, I too believe in them.”

The comments came as former chief minister Ashok Chavan defected from the Congress and was nominated as BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidate. Over a dozen more Congress leaders and lawmakers were expected to defect ahead of the February 27 Rajya Sabha polls. They were likely to either join the BJP or the state’s two other ruling parties Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party or Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena.

The leader cited above said the likes of Pankaja Munde pay the price for speaking up openly against injustice. “The induction of Ajit Pawar [as the deputy chief minister] or Ashok Chavan [into the BJP] has not gone well with the committed workers of the party, and especially the ones who were associated with [the party’s ideological fount] RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh],” said the leader.