MUMBAI/NAGPUR: In a new turn of events, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari’s name is being pushed by his camp for Maharashtra Chief Minister. So far, the BJP leader had maintained that he was happy with his role at the Centre and had no desire to shift back to State politics.
Mr. Gadkari’s supporters have turned aggressive even as fellow Nagpurian and State BJP chief, Devendra Fadnavis, is being considered the front-runner for the job. Incidentally, both Mr. Gadkari and Mr. Fadnavis are Brahmins and have strong RSS roots. According to party sources, Mr. Gadkari, former BJP president, who was handpicked by the RSS to the post, is not comfortable at the prospect of Mr. Fadnavis becoming CM.
The unease in the Gadkari camp came to the fore when Sudhir Mungantiwar, former State BJP chief, strongly pitched for Mr. Gadkari for the top post saying it was the party’s demand. Mr. Mungantiwar, an OBC, himself, was believed to be in the running for the top post. “We all want that Nitin [Gadkari] ji should think about Maharashtra,” he said. “Will request him to come [to Maharashtra]. The party wants him to be CM.” Mr. Mungantiwar said.
Within hours of this, Mr. Gadkari landed in Nagpur to a grand welcome organised by Rajive Potdar, BJP Nagpur rural president, who resigned three days ago blaming Mr. Fadnavis for the “mismanagement of the Savner Lok Sabha seat.” Over 40 MLAs gathered at his residence with the demand that he take up the CM post. Political observers, however, say there is little possibility of that happening. Responding to questions on his arrival in Nagpur, Mr. Gadkari was evasive. “At this point, I can only say that the party will decide on the new leader of Maharashtra,” he said.