MUMBAI/ CHANDIGARH: Ministers and turncoats pulled NDA down in the battle to retain Maharashtra and Haryana.
Eight ministers of the Devendra Fadnavis government lost at the hustings, an embarrassment almost matched by the M L Khattar cabinet in Haryana that saw seven out of its nine BJP members biting the dust. Dimming the glow of returning to power in Maharashtra further was the electorate’s rejection of 11 prominent faces from the opposition camp that had crossed over to the BJP-Shiv Sena side just before the polls.
While it was expected that some of Fadnavis’s ministers would lose, the defeat of agriculture minister Anil Bonde was a big surprise, as was that of high-profile rural development minister Pankaja Munde, who lost to her cousin Dhananjay Munde by 31,000 votes.
The others included junior forest minister Parinay Fuke, employment guarantee minister Jaydutta Kshirsagar, who joined the Shiv Sena on the eve of the assembly elections, senior Sena leader and minister of state for textiles Arjun Khotkar, minister for marketing Ram Shinde, junior labour minister Bala Bhegde and MoS for water resources Vijay Shivtare.
Eleven of the 19 prominent turncoats who had switched allegiance to BJP were defeated, too. The list includes Udayanraje Bhosale from Satara, former minister Harshavardhan Patil, Vaibhav Pichad and Dilip Sopal.
In Haryana, the capitulation of ministers wasn’t the only setback to BJP. State party chief Subhash Barala suffered defeat at the hands of JJP’s Devender Babli by a margin of 52,302 votes, leaving him so disappointed that he left the counting hall midway and soon announced his resignation
Only 2 netas in Khattar cabinet manage to clear the mark Ministers Anil Vij from Ambala Cantonment and Banwari Lal from Bawal constituency were the only victorious ones for BJP. Khattar had 11 ministers in his cabinet, two of whom — Vipul Goel and Rao Narbir — were denied tickets.
The senior-most minister, Ram Bilas Sharma, who was in charge of education and tourism, lost to Rao Dan Singh, a loyalist of former Congress chief minister Bhupinder Hooda, by a margin of 9,240 votes.
The one outcome that dealt the biggest shock was the defeat of finance minister Capt Abhimanyu, seen by many as the most powerful in Khattar’s cabinet. Capt Abhimanyu lost to ex-BJP stalwart Ram Kumar Gautam of JJP by a margin of 12,029 votes.
BJP’s “farmer face”, agriculture minister Om Parkash Dhankar, lost to Kuldeep Vats in Badli by 11,245 votes. Manish Grover, a junior minister, was defeated by Hooda loyalist Bharat Bhushan Batra in Rohtak city. Three-time MLA and women and child development minister Kavita Jain, whose husband was media adviser to Khattar, couldn’t retain her seat either.
Neither could three-time MLA and speaker Krishan Lal Panwar in Israna. Krishan Kumar Bedi, the minister from Shahbad, also lost, as did Karan Dev Kamboj by a small margin of 560 votes.
Source: Times of India