BJP’s decision to nominate city Mayor Sandip Joshi for the Nagpur Graduate Constituency Legislative Council seat is being seen as an instance of former chief minister and currently Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis stealing a march over party senior and Union minister Nitin Gadkari in the political tug-of-war between the two party heavyweights.
Joshi replaces Anil Sole, who was named six years ago for the seat, and who had subsequently won it. Gadkari himself had represented the seat for several years before that.
Joshi is pitted against Abhijeet Wanjari of the Congress.
Political circles in BJP were unsure about Sole getting the nomination a second time since the party had sent two names this time, unlike last time, when Sole was the sole choice.
Incidentally, Sole is known to be close to Gadkari and Joshi is one of Fadnavis’ closest friends. While Fadnavis has always publicly acknowledged Gadkari as his leader even after becoming the chief Minister in 2014, the political competition between the two has always been talked about in BJP circles.
Even Sole and Fadnavis are widely believed to be each other’s adversaries within the party. Like Joshi, Sole was also Nagpur mayor prior to becoming a MLC.
“He (Fadnavis) is currently the favorite with the party’s central leadership, which could be the reason behind his word carrying more weight than that of Gadkari, whose uncomfortable relationship with top party brass is an open secret. That’s why Sole was dumped for Joshi,” said a source close to Gadkari.
He added, “The contest is clearly going to be interesting, what with the two sides not expected to fully cooperate with each other in the aftermath of Sole being dropped for Joshi.”
Fadnavis and Gadkari have been the state BJP’s two power centres. But since 2014, Fadnavis has been gaining in power, with the central leadership choosing him for the CM’s post. Recently, Fadnavis was named the party’s campaign chief for Bihar elections. Gadkari, however, was not asked to even address any election rallies in the state.
Fadnavis, Joshi and Sole couldn’t be reached for comment.
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