Sudhir Mungantiwar to replace Fadnavis as next CM?

Nagpur: As the deadlock over formation of government in Maharashtra is far from over with both BJP and Shiv Sena refusing to relent, the BJP high command is likely to change the equation within its limitation.
Sources viewed that CM Devendra Fadnavis seems to have become the bone of contention in paving the way to strike a deal with Sena. Sources within the BJP have now claimed that party president Amit Shah has hinted that the BJP may replace Fadnavis with another leader who can be more flexible in dealing with Shiv Sena in terms of sharing the CM’s post.

Fadnavis ostensibly met Union Home Minister Amit Shah to seek help for farmers affected by unseasonal rains. In this meeting, the issue of government formation was discussed in detail.

As reported in Free Press Journal, Shah is believed to have informed Fadnavis that Maharashtra is too important a state in the BJP scheme of things and the central leadership is inclined to accept the Sena demand for ‘CM post by rotation.’ It is an open secret that Shah is not happy with Fadnavis and wants his confidante Chandrakant Patil to be at the helm. Shah, who swung the deal in Haryana, has chosen to remain silent in the back-channel talks with the Sena.

Shah had instead asked Fadnavis to end the stalemate, fully aware that the CM cannot assure a satisfactory outcome. As the central leadership is not inclined to intervene, Fadnavis met senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari. It needs to to be noted that the same Fadnavis had kept Gadkari at bay in the last five years.
He was neither consulted during seat-sharing and ticket distribution, nor were his services requisitioned for party campaigns outside Vidarbha. Gadkari may relent and position himself, only if his camp is promised good portfolios, said sources.

But RSS and key leaders in the BJP may not favour a leader from Western Maharashtra as CM. As Vidarbha is still the stronghold of the party and key leaders of the RSS and the BJP belong to region, the BJP may prefer Sudhir Mungantiwar who is senior to both Fadnavis and Chandrakant Patil.

“The BJP is ready to give the CM’s post to the Sena even for the first 2.5 years. But we do not want to lose power in the most industrialised and leading state of Maharashtra. It will send a wrong message across the country and adversely impact the Jharkhand and Delhi polls,” a senior leader said.

“Therefore, the possibility of a Shiv Sena CM and Mungantiwar as Deputy CM cannot be ruled out. Fadnavis has been asked to discuss this with Sena,” the leader said.

Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s advisor Kishore Tiwari has dashed off a ‘top priority’ letter to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, seeking his urgent intervention in the matter.

“We have demanded that the BJP should deploy its senior leader and Minister Nitin Gadkari in negotiations with the Sena. We are confident that he will not only honour ‘alliance dharma’ to the hilt, but also resolve the imbroglio within two hours,” Tiwari said.

He claimed that once the impasse is over, Uddhav can be sworn-in as Chief Minister for the first 30 months and BJP can decide who its nominee will be for the remaining tenure.

“Considering the mood within the BJP and the Sena, given Fadnavis’ individualistic and overbearing style of functioning, it is imperative that a politically seasoned person like Gadkari be repatriated to Maharashtra to fulfil the joint agenda of Hindutva and development of the two allies,” Tiwari said.

Tiwari’s letter clearly hints at Sena’s opposition to Fadnavis and also reveals party SOS to RSS to intervene for the sake of Hindutva politics.

Set for Round 2!
Both Fadnavis and Shah also discussed their plan B for BJP. If Sena does not agree to form a government, then let them form a government with the NCP and the Congress. We will wait as we did in Karnataka and then implement Operation Lotus in the next few months, Fadnavis was told. Operation Lotus was the plan devised by the BJP to engineer defections from other parties to reduce the ruling alliance’s effective strength in the house.