Chandrakant Patil appointed BJP's Maharashtra chief
The party appointed Mangal Prabhat Lodha its Mumbai unit chief, replacing Ashish Shelar, who was inducted in the BJP government in Maharashtra.
With Patil’s appointment just months before the assembly election, the BJP, Congress as well as Nationalist Congress Party have Marathas hailing from western Maharashtra as their state chiefs.
Pati l took over from Rao Saheb Danve, who has become a minister in the central government, while Lodha replaced Ashish Shelar.
Patil, who is known to be close to party chief and Union home minister Amit Shah, was appointed as the state BJP chief even as some BJP leaders said that he was eyeing a bigger role in the event of the BJP returning to power in the state. His appointment as a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra in 2014 had also raised eyebrows as he had superseded many leaders in the party.
BJP leaders said that Patil became close to Shah since the latter’s wife came from Patil’s home town in Kolhapur and that Shah and Patil enjoyed a good equation since the late 1980s when he was in the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
Patil’s clout could be seen from the fact that when the BJP’s most senior leader in the state, Eknath Khadse, quit as revenue minister after charges of corruption, Patil was given the revenue portfolio. This, according to BJP leaders, clearly indicated that Patil was the number two in the state government.
There have been at least two occasions when Patil’s candidature as potential CM has been a matter of serious speculation.
When the Maratha agitation for quotas turned violent in the state, a section of party members said that the BJP might replace Fadnavis as he was a Brahmin with a Maratha like Patil to quell the protest.
Rumours resurfaced when farmers protested across the state seeking a loan waiver. While Patil has maintained a low profile, he has been prone to gaffes while making speeches or public statements.