Even as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spars with Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena over their broken alliance, Union Minister and former party president Nitin Gadkari did not appear to rule out his return to Maharashtra politics as 39 BJP MLAs met him at his residence here and demanded that he be made the state’s Chief Minister. Though state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis was considered front-runner for the post of CM, Nitin Gadkari’s name has been doing the rounds.
Here are the reasons why Gadkari could become the next Maharashtra CM
1. After the BJP’s big win in Maharashtra, the divide in the state party unit came out in the open on Tuesday as 39 of its 44 Vidarbha MLAs took a flight from Mumbai to Nagpur and asked Gadkari to take over as the Chief Minister.
2. Even as the MLAs shouted slogans like, ‘Maharashtra ka mukhya mantri kaisa ho, Nitin Gadkari jaisa ho’, Gadkari sought to play down the development, saying the MLAs who met him “have a lot of respect for me and they are requesting me to be the Chief Minister.”
?It’s for the party’s central leadership to decide and I will accept any responsibility given to me,” said the former chief of BJP.
3 The move, however, seemed to have been planned strategically. First, Gadkari landed at Nagpur on Tuesday. Then, the MLAs rushed to Nagpur and gathered at his residence. Gadkari also fielded his close aide, Sudhir Mungantiwar, to hold discussions with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Capital.
4 In Nagpur, one of the MLAs said they wanted Gadkari to take over ”since Maharashtra needs able leadership? and he ?is experienced and more able.”
5 Describing it as a show of strength ? and a message to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, BJP sources said, ”Gadkari has sensed that the central leadership is keen on picking state party president Devendra Fadnavis as the CM. So he is trying to reassert his political might in the state.?
6. A close aide of Gadkari said, ”At a rally in Nagpur, Modi declared that Fadnavis was Nagpur?s gift to Maharashtra. Gadkari reckons that even if Fadnavis becomes the CM, the central leadership should realise that he (Gadkari) has the support of most of the MLAs from Vidarbha.”
7. With both Gadkari and Fadnavis hailing from Vidarbha, there has been speculation about a turf war between the two leaders. The rift surfaced during last year?s elections for the state BJP president. While Gadkari supported Mungantiwar, the late Gopinath Munde backed Fadnavis.
8. A senior BJP leader said the choice of ally could also play a role in deciding the CM. ?The Shiv Sena is our natural alliance partner. If there is a Sena-BJP coalition, Fadnavis will lead the government,? he said. ?If the BJP has to seek the NCP?s support, Gadkari will step in.
9. During the campaign, the state leaders, especially Fadnavis, targeted NCP leaders aggressively,? he explained. Moreover, Gadkari is known to have a cordial relationship with NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
10. In Mumbai, senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar pitched for Gadkari for the post of CM. “State BJP leaders feel that Nitin Gadkariji should come back to the state politics and take up the position of the CM of Maharashtra. He has a lot of administrative experience behind him which makes him an ideal candidate,” said Mungantiwar, also a former state BJP chief and a member of state BJP core committee.