Former BJP leader Eknath Khadse on Wednesday said he had opposed party leader and incumbent Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' elevation as the Maharashtra unit president (in 2013) but party veteran Gopinath Munde overruled his objection. Khadse had quit BJP to join Nationalist Congress Party and became an MLC. When Fadnavis was chief minister of Maharashtra (from 2014-19), Khadse was forced to resign as a cabinet minister over a land deal.
Fadnavis served as the president of Maharashtra BJP from April 2013 to January 2015. Speaking in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Khadse criticised Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the BJP government for "forgetting" BJP stalwart the late Gopinath Munde. "It was Gopinath Munde who worked hard to take BJP to the masses by changing the perception that it was the party of elites. But now, BJP seems to have forgotten him after his death. I was against appointing Devendra Fadnavis as the state unit party president (before 2014), but Munde insisted on his elevation," Khadse said.
He claimed the then national president of BJP, Rajnath Singh, had stated that "any leader nominated by me will be made the chief of Maharashtra unit". "But despite Munde's huge contribution, he and his family are now forgotten. The Munde family (One of Munde's daughters is a Lok Sabha MP from Maharashtra while another daughter Pankaja lost the 2019 assembly elections) and I faced undeclared ostracism within the party for some time," Khadse claimed.
Khadse was a strong contender for the post of chief minister after BJP emerged as the single largest party in the 2014 Assembly elections, but the party chose Fadnavis over him.