RS polls Maharashtra: Behind BJP win, a former Shiv Sena loyalist, key Cong strategist

The BJP also surprised the ruling Maha Vikas Agadi (MVA) government by winning the sixth Rajya Sabha seat, the key person in Devendra Fadnavis’ team credited with crafting the party’s strategy is Ashish Kulkarni.

Currently holding the position of Vice President in the Maharashtra unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Kulkarni started his career with Shiv Sena before moving to Congress in 2003 and finally to his current party – the Bharatiya Janata Party – a few years ago.

At Sena, he worked under Subhash Desai, who is now the Minister of Industries, and was also considered a trusted aide to party founder Pal Thackeray.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Dhananjay Mahadik beat Sina leader Sanjay Pawar in opinion polls announced on Saturday.

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“Our strategy for the RS polls was very simple. We gave the highest votes – 48 – to Union Minister Piyush Goyal and former Maharashtra Minister Anil Bond and second preference to all our MLAs over Mahadik, who was the third candidate. This plan was drawn up by Kulkarni and finalized by opposition leader Fadnavis. Along with BJP Observer Ashwini Vaishnav’.

Goyal and Bonde received 48 votes, which translates to 4,800 marks; Second preference votes have been converted to pranks.

In all, the BJP received 106 votes from members of the Legislative Council. Besides the eight independent candidates, they got nine more due to which they got 4,156 marks.”

The strategy planned by Kulkarni was fine-tuned by Vadnavis. A senior BJP official said only Vadnavis and Vaishnav were aware of the plan. “They’ve got the rest of the independent MLAs and those of smaller groups on their side, thanks to Vadnavis’ skills,” the captain said.

Kulkarni left Sena about two decades ago as he felt marginalized after Uddhav Thackeray took over as party leader. He also had a close association with Narayan Rani, who was also finding it difficult to get along with Uddhav.

He moved to Congress and took charge of six parliamentary seats in 2009; The party won them all. He was asked to sketch out a strategy for state elections in the same year that Congress also won. His acumen was then recognized by the Gandhi family and he was transferred to Delhi to work with Ahmed Patel, then the political advisor to the President of the Congress.

In 2010, Kulkarni was also credited with helping then-Prime Minister Ashok Chavan of Congress elect party candidate Vijay Sawant on the MLC ticket, which the latter won by a narrow margin.
In 2017, Kulkarni resigned from Congress and worked independently for some time before joining the BJP.

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