Maharashtra polls: 5 prominent leaders not on BJP list

A supporter of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) waves the party flag during an election campaign rally. (Reuters photo)

Top five leaders of the BJP's Maharashtra unit has failed to make it in the list of contesting candidates.  They are Eknath Khadse (67), Prakash Mehta (60), Raj Purohit (59), Vinod Tawde (56) and Chandrashekhar Bawankule (50) and all of them are prominent faces in the state BJP. 

Mehta and Purohit are Mumbai BJP's Gujarati and Marwari faces, respectively, and MLAs for six terms. "It is a big blow to them and they will take some time for them to recover," political observers said.

However, Khadse and Bawankule, had been accommodated. Khadse's daughter Rohini has been given ticket from Muktainagar in Jalgaon, a seat that he represented since 1991.
Bawankule's wife Jyoti has been given nomination from Kamptee in Nagpur, that he represented since 2004.

Khadse, who hails from the Leva Patil community, is the seniormost BJP leader in the state and was close to late Gopinath Munde. He was a minister in the erstwhile Sena-BJP government and later leader of opposition for five years. When the BJP-led government led by Devendra Fadnavis came to power, he was made a minister and handed nine portfolios including revenue and agriculture. He had to resign in wake of corruption charges and since then the once CM-aspirant was sidelined. He is close to Congress leader Ashok Chavan and he recently said that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has no role on the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam, which has not been taken lightly by BJP leadership.

Bawankule, the power minister, is close to Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, but there are allegations that he could not handle the ministry well.
Tawde, a Maratha, like Khadse was once a CM aspirant. He faced problems over fake degree and was also mired with criticism over the poor 10th board results as he did away with the internal assessment marks as the then school education minister.

Mehta is one of the most dynamic leaders and a go-getter.  He got entangled in a slum development scam and was indicted by LokAyukta. The housing minister had to be dropped.
Purohit, the chief whip, was once caught in a sting speaking against Mrime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, the present Home Minister.

"They will be given some new responsibilities and some of them may be accommodated in Council," a source said.

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