The legislative council (LC) elections are fast becoming a tug of war within the BJP, with a few leaders voicing their concern over repeated nomination of the same leaders. The elections are scheduled for March 20.
As the party is required to field two candidates, names of existing MLCs Vinod Tawde and Pandurang Phundkar are again doing the rounds. Many in the party feel it is high time young leaders got an opportunity to lead the party in the legislative council.
Party state unit vice-president Neeta Kelkar, who is from Sangli, had led a delegation of women activists and office bearers of the party on March 4 and met the top leaders of the state unit demanding nominations in the LC elections.
"Tawde has been in the legislative council for a long time. We have been working for the party for several years and even have fought assembly elections. Besides, in the list of candidates announced for the Lok Sabha elections, there are no women. So we demanded that we be accommodated," said Kelkar.
Kelkar is not the only one demanding nomination to contest the legislative council elections. Former BJP Yuva Morcha leader Sunil Rane, a Gopinath Munde camp follower also has been wanting to be an MLC. Other leaders such as Smita Wagh, Kanta Nalawade and even Arun Adsad are some of the party leaders who are seeking nominations and in the reckoning.
However, supporters of Tawde point out that the leader had made it clear right in the beginning that he was not interested in contesting the legislative council elections this time around and wanted to contest the assembly elections.
"Tawde had told that he would contest the LC elections only if obtaining additional votes became a problem for the party while fielding two candidates. Tawde has the ability and wherewithal to manage and secure votes of MLAs," said a Tawde aide.
Munde camp followers claim that Tawde is not sure about a safe assembly seat and therefore, wants to be in the council while going for Lok Sabha and assembly elections. Tawde is eyeing the Borivali assembly seat, which will be vacated by Gopal Shetty, and the Mulund assembly seat, which is held by Sardar Tara Singh. He is also inclined towards the Vile Parle seat, currently with the Shiv Sena, they said.
Meanwhile, BJP sources claimed that the central party leadership had postponed the decision on selection of the nominees for the LC elections. However, supporters of Vinod Tawde claim that the party is all set to push for Tawde and Pandurang Phundkar.