Interesting developments are taking place in the Maharashtra BJP. On Friday, the celebration of former revenue minister Eknath Khadse's birthday in Jalgaon saw the emergence of a triumvirate opposed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. With angry and upset Khadse at its front, the other two members of the triumvirate are BJP state president Raosaheb Danve and Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar.
Inner circles of BJP were surprised when Danve and Fundkar decided to attend Khadse's birthday celebration organised by his supporters in Jalgaon. An old warhorse, Khadse used the occasion to target Fadnavis. He said he was extremely hurt when he realised that a section of the party was involved in targeting him when he was the minister.
Khadse said he had worked for four decades to give BJP a mass base in Maharashtra. Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena gave him big assurances and promises but he did not desert. Those who fought with him have been finished politically. "I can still fight the party's opponents but I can't fight against insiders," said Khadse.
Using a cricketing analogy, Khadse said a seasoned and experienced player is performing well and consistently. When this player is about to become captain of the team, a new player appears and is made the captain. He said being a minister never mattered to him and he had resigned because the party's image was suffering.
Khadse made it clear that he will never desert the party, but henceforth he would not tolerate any nonsense. He pointed out, "Not a single evidence has been given against me so far". Danve also spoke on the occasion and expressed his support for Khadse. He said that he has had the same feelings in his mind as Khadse.
Friday's meeting is a clear signal that an anti-chief minister axis is emerging in Maharashtra. As in the case of Congress, BJP state president is among the main players in this anti-Fadnavis axis.
The alliance between Khadse, Danve and Fundkar is likely to pose a strong challenge to Fadnavis, as all of them belong to the generation senior to him and are among those who worked for BJP when the party was nowhere near power. Also important is the fact that none of them are Brahmins and represent politically powerful Maratha and OBC communities.