Gadkari leads in M'rashtra

Gadkari leads in M'rashtra

Gadkari leads in M'rashtra

Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari’s name gained currency as a possible chief ministerial candidate in Maharashtra even as the Shiv Sena softened its stand and despatched two key men to Delhi to hold talks with the BJP leaders to form a coalition government.

Despite strong repeated denials by the union minister, Gadkari’s name was openly suggested by senior leader and former tourism minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who too hails from Vidarbha and is one of the aspirants for the post.

“Gadkari is a senior leader. There is a general feeling that he should be the chief minister, given his experience and skills. He is in the Centre now, but we want that he should lead the state,” Mungantiwar said.

State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, who is also from Vidarbha, is another strong contender to become the first BJP chief minister of the state.
The tussle for the post of the chief minister is also one of the reasons for delay in finalising the date for swearing-in of the new government, according to BJP sources.

In a related development, the Sena, which has adopted a tough posture, opened the channel for dialogue with Sena chief Uddhav Thackrey sending two of his close aides — Subhash Desai and Anil Desai — to New Delhi to hold talks with BJP general secretary J P Nadda, who has been made one of the observers along with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Speaking to mediapersons in Nagpur, Gadkari said: “Yes, talks are on with Shiv Sena.”

On Tuesday evening, 40-odd legislators, mainly from Vidarbha, visited his Nagpur residence. Interacting with journalists, he said: “I have already made my stand clear. When I wanted to be in Maharashtra, the party sent me to New Delhi. Today, I am in national politics, I have a lot of responsibilities, I am doing good work. Whatever decision the party takes, we will abide by it. Maharashtra will get its first BJP chief minister and this is because of the hard work of party workers.”

Gadkari also said that talks with the Shiv Sena is underway and the government would be in place soon. He has arrived in Nagpur from the national capital after back to back meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah over the last couple of days. Fadnavis, 44, however preferred to remain silent. He had earlier said that “there are no front-runners ” in the race for chief ministership and the legislature party and parliamentary board would take a call on it.

Besides Gadkari, Fadnavis and Mungantiwar, the others in the race are leader of opposition in Assembly Eknath Khadse, his counterpart in the Council Vinod Tawde and Pankaja Munde-Palve.