Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday said it was the central parliamentary board which decided to deny poll tickets to some ministers and party leaders, and the BJP's state unit had no say in fielding candidates for the October elections.
The parliamentary board is the BJP's top decision-making body.
Mr Fadnavis has been criticised over denial of tickets to former ministers like Vinod Tawde, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, and Prakash Mehta for the October 21 assembly polls, a decision, some say, led to the loss of many seats. The BJP's tally came down to 105 in 2019 from 122 in 2014.
Mr Fadnavis admitted that not giving ticket to Mr Bawankule, a prominent Teli community leader from Vidarbha, hurt the party in the region.
The BJP had won 122 seats in the 2014 assembly polls when it contested against the Shiv Sena Sena, the NCP and the Congress. Several sitting ministers lost the elections in 2019, while others won with thin margins.
Speaking to Marathi daily ''Loksatta'' in Mumbai, Mr Fadnavis said, "Chandrashekhar Bawankule was not given ticket this time and it has certainly affected our performance. Some seats in East Vidarbha region were lost, looks like if we had not denied ticket to Mr Bawankule we would not have lost them."
"The state committee of BJP has not recommended rejection of anyone's ticket. We were in favour of retaining them, but the list we had sent to central parliamentary committee was updated and some ministers' names were dropped," Mr Fadnavis said.
"Whether the decision of denying ticket was right or wrong, the central parliamentary board alone can comment over it. This was not the state unit's decision. The Maharashtra BJP unit was in favour of giving ticket to these leaders," Mr Fadnavis said.
Some prominent OBC leaders in the state, including Eknath Khadse and Pankaja Munde, expressed their unhappiness with the state party leadership post-elections.
Commenting over it, Mr Fadnavis said, "I can clearly say that the BJP is still the party of OBCs. Thought Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself does not believe in caste system, he himself represents OBCs."
"Even the results of assembly polls indicate that the BJP is still the party for OBCs," said the leader of opposition in the Maharashtra assembly.
"Out of the 105 MLAs, 35 are Marathas, 37 are OBCs and 18 are from SC and ST categories. It should explain itself," he said.
"The issues related to Pankaja Munde have been resolved. Senior leaders of the BJP from Delhi will speak with Eknath Khadse and address his issues for sure. As we have not formed the government, such type of discuss and debate goes on," he said.