Nagpur: The much-awaited Cabinet expansion-cum-reshuffle effected by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently, it seems, has left a community sulking. Representation to the influential Mali community which comes under OBC category was conveniently forgotten by the BJP leadership even though six MLAs of the community are in party fold. At the same time, the party wants to capture power in the politically significant Uttar Pradesh with the support of Mali community and hence the State (UP) President was made from the community. This double standard of the BJP has baffled the members of the Mali community.
The population of Mali community holds a clout across political parties. Considering the influence, Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP assumed the importance and offered the Mali leaders plum posts from time to time. Currently, BJP is ruling at Centre as well as in the State. Cabinet expansion was effected twice in the State. However, no member of Mali community was inducted into the ministry despite the party having 6 MLAs. This sidelining of its leaders has naturally left the Mali community sulking. This overlooking is taking place when an influential leader of the community hailing from Nagpur district has strong connections with the home leaders – Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. This leader is also striving hard to bring all the Mali community members of the State under one roof. In this situation, negligence of the community may prove cost-bearing for the BJP in the coming elections.
The key leader of Mali community and NCP stalwart Chhagan Bhujbal is embroiled in controversies and struggling behind the bars. Before joining NCP, Bhujbal was a hardcore Shiv Sainik. The late Balasaheb Thackeray, considering his value, had put Bhujbal on significant positions. And the NCP not only made him an influential minister but handed over him the responsibility of Bihar as In-Charge of the party so that the Mali community would be a strong base of the party in that State. On the other hand, Congress fielded Rajiv Satav, another Mali community leader, in the last Lok Sabha elections and showed its respect to the community. Satav too won the Lok Sabha election and put a prestigious feather in the cap of Mali community. Interestingly, Congress had won two seats in the State and one of them was Rajiv Satav. Had Congress in power at Centre, Satav would have undoubtedly been a member of the Cabinet and brought glory to the community.
Considering the influence Mali community holds in State politics, it was expected at least one member would have been inducted in the ministry. But it did not happen leaving the community baffled and rattled. Moreover, Avinash Thakre, a member of Mali community who is considered very close to Fadnavis and Gadkari and who is striving hard to keep community flock strongly behind BJP should have been offered a significant post like Corporation or Board Chairman but it also did not happen. This attempt to sideline the Mali community could prove disastrous for the party in the coming elections.
The Mali community is in the profession agriculture and agricultural activities such as dealing in orange, mosambi , vegetables, cotton and soyabean too. Well educated, the Mali community in other businesses as well and it is a prosperous community. Since Mahatma Phule and Savitribai belonged to this community, education is priority for Malis. It is only in recent years that people from this community started gravitating towards BJP since Congress and NCP have been very Maratha dominated. BJP has had a golden opportunity to woo OBCs but it failed by not inducting any member of the community in the recently expanded ministry.