Nagpur: It appears as if the BJP’s choices are getting problematic. The BJP leadership has to decide how to form the government in Maharashtra because the party has won in maximum number of constituencies. However, still they do not have an absolute majority. This has caused a number of leaders who want to head the new government to swell. On October 21, 2014, a group of 40 MLAs from the BJP called on the Union Minister of Road Transport, Shipping and Highways Nitin Gadkari at his residence in Nagpur, where they had allegedly urged him to return from Delhi to lead his home state.
In a recent interview with some media houses Nitin Gadkari had told that he was not going to switch portfolios. However, sources within the BJP say that the lobbying by his supporters reflects a concern that Gadkari could be over-shadowed on his home turf of Nagpur.
At a time when one of the prime candidate for the Chief Minister is widely believed to be Devendra Fadnavis, the 44-year-old State Chief of BJP in Maharashtra.
Both Devendra Fadnavis and Nitin Gadkari hail from Nagpur. Both politicians owe much of the success in their careers to the powerful backing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is the ideological mentor of the BJP, and is headquartered in Nagpur. Both Nitin Gadkari and Devendra Fadnavis are Brahmins.
There were also rumours that were taking rounds in some circles that Pankaja Munde is also one of the contenders for the Chief Minister’s post.
However, Pankaja Munde had reportedly told some media personnel after winning her constituency that her heart was no longer in any sort of larger contest for the top job.
Pankaja Munde’s father, Gopinath who was one of the BJP’s tallest leaders from Maharashtra, died in an accident while he was Union Minister in June this year. He was known to have a close special equation with Devendra Fadnavis and a not so close and uneasy relationship with Nitin Gadkari.
It was at the urging of RSS that Devendra Fadnavis was chosen last year as the BJP’s President in the State. The RSS hoped his appointment would end the bickering between the rival Munde and Gadkari camps.
With the Bharatiya Janata Party delaying the decision on Chief Ministerial candidate till after Diwali, further discussions on government formation in Maharashtra, voices started growing on October 21, 2014 to bring Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari back to the State and make him the Chief Minister.
BJP MLA and Former State Unit President Sudhir Mungantiwar said on October 21, 2014 that he and other state leaders want Nitin Gadkari to be appointed as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Mungantiwar while speaking to some media personnel has reported said that he will personally request Nitin Gadkari to take up the post.
However, it may be noted that Nitin Gadkari is not keen on returning to State politics and has claimed so many times earlier too that he was happy in Delhi. He is quoted to have said that he is not in the race to become the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
In a candid meeting with Gadkari held on October 21, 2014, BJP President Amit Shah had allegedly raised the speculation that the Union Minister was in the CM’s race but it appeared to be ruled out by many insiders in the party.
The demand arose even as BJP’s State Chief Devendra Fadnavis emerged as the prime contender for the Chief Minister’s post overcoming challenge from other veterans including Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde.
It is reported that Nitin Gadkari had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier in the day at the latter’s residence and had spent about half an hour with him to discuss the party’s strategy ahead.
He later arrived in Nagpur to hold discussions with the RSS top brass on the BJP options ahead. RSS is keen that the saffron forces should united but have left it to the BJP to decide.
Prominent among those present were Sudhakar Deshmukh, Krishna Khopde, Dr Milind Mane, Ashish Deshmukh, Chandrashekar Bawankule, Vikas Kumbhare, Sameer Meghe, Sudhakar Kohle, Sudhir Parwe, Malikarjun Reddy, Sudhir Mungantiwar and others.