BJP’s Murlidhar Mohol Rises from Corporator to Union Minister, A First for Pune

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Pune, 10th June 2024: BJP’s first-time MP from Pune, Murlidhar Mohol (49), was sworn in as a Minister of State in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third government on Sunday. This appointment marks a significant milestone for Pune, as Mohol is the first Lok Sabha member since 1986 to achieve this position.

He is also notable for being elevated directly from the corporator’s level to the Union Council of Ministers without prior experience in the state legislature. Mohol served as mayor until the Pune Municipal Corporation’s term ended in March 2022.

“It is an honour for the citizens of Pune. Through this post, I will have the opportunity to contribute to our party’s vision of making India a developed nation by 2047,” Mohol stated. He attributed his success and ministerial position to the collective efforts of party leaders and workers.

Mohol received a call from BJP chief J P Nadda and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday morning, summoning him to the Prime Minister’s residence for the oath-taking ceremony in the evening. In the recent general elections, Mohol defeated Congress’s Ravindra Dhangekar by a margin of 1.23 lakh votes.

The Pune Lok Sabha constituency has not had representation in the Union Ministry for nearly four decades. Vitthalrao Gadgil of the Congress party, elected as a Lok Sabha MP in 1984, served as the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister from 1984 to 1986 in the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government.

Suresh Kalmadi, another prominent Congress leader, served as a Rajya Sabha member before becoming the Minister of State for Railways with independent charge in 1995, during the Narasimha Rao government. His ministerial role lasted for six months. Kalmadi was later elected as a Lok Sabha member in 1996, a term that saw the rise of a non-Congress government.

More recently, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Prakash Javadekar served as a minister in Modi’s first two terms, holding portfolios such as Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Parliamentary Affairs, and Information and Broadcasting. Previous Pune Lok Sabha MPs from BJP, Anil Shirole (2014) and the late Girish Bapat (2019), did not receive ministerial positions.

From 1980 to 1989, Congress’s Vitthalrao Gadgil held various portfolios, including Information and Broadcasting under Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. His father, Narhar Vishnu Gadgil, was Pune’s first Union Minister, serving as Energy Minister in India’s first cabinet in 1947 under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and later as Governor of Punjab. Another notable MP from Pune, Mohan Dharia, served in various ministerial roles in the 1970s representing Congress and Janata Party.

On Sunday, six MPs from Maharashtra were inducted into Modi’s NDA government: BJP’s Nitin Gadkari (Nagpur), Piyush Goyal (Mumbai-North), Raksha Khadse (Raver), and Murlidhar Mohol (Pune), along with RPI (A) leader and Rajya Sabha member Ramdas Athawale, and Prataprao Jadhav (Buldhana) of Shiv Sena. Gadkari, Goyal, and Athawale have served as ministers in Modi’s previous governments.

Nitin Gadkari’s reappointment is seen as unsurprising given his seniority and pro-development stance. Piyush Goyal, whose family has long been staunch BJP supporters, is also closely aligned with Modi. Raksha Khadse’s selection highlights the party’s strategy to strengthen its presence in North Maharashtra, an area where BJP’s performance has been below expectations.

According to political analysts, Mohol’s youth and his base in Pune, where BJP holds a significant number of MLAs, were likely factors in his selection. In western Maharashtra, BJP aims to expand and compete with NCP (Sharad Pawar). Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s selection of Prataprao Jadhav is part of a strategy to expand his party’s influence in rural Maharashtra, particularly in regions bordering Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad) and aiming to gain more seats in Vidarbha and Marathwada.