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Politics
Maharashtra: Big jolt to Fadnavis as 39 MLAs back Gadkari as chief minister
22-10-2014

NAGPUR: The divide in Maharashtra BJP came out in the open with 39 of the forty Vidarbha MLAs requesting Nitin Gadkari to take over as Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, giving a big jolt to the process of anointing Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister.

The MLAs came together aboard a flight from Mumbai to Nagpur on Tuesday evening and headed straight to Gadkari’s residence and urged him to take over as CM.

Being seen as natural extension of the much-speculated Gadkari-Fadnavis (Devendra) turf war in Nagpur, which the two leaders have always denied, Tuesday’s gathering at Gadkari’s place has brought the division out in the open beyond any doubt.

The MLAs even shouted slogans, “Maharashtra ka mukhyamantri kaisa ho, Nitin Gadkari jaisa ho (Maharashtra needs a CM like Gadkari).” Former party state unit chief Sudhir Mungantiwar, a close Gadkari aide and third name in contention for the post, however, wasn’t present.

Gadkari sought to play down the development saying, “it is their love for me that has prompted them to urge me to become CM. But I have repeatedly said I am not interested in returning to state and that I want to do good work in my present assignment at Delhi. The CM will be chosen by the parliamentary party.”

But with almost entire flank of Vidarbha party MLAs throwing their lot behind Gadkari, it has become clear as to who calls the shots in Maharashtra BJP. Some of the MLAs even spoke independently to the media saying they want Gadkari to take over “since Maharashtra needs able leadership.”

Meanwhile in MUMBAI, amid continuing stand-off with Shiv Sena, BJP’s Maharashtra assembly poll in charge Om Mathur on Tuesday said his party was the new ‘big brother’ in the state and others should not think themselves as bigger when “the people’s verdict is otherwise.”

“The people of Maharashtra have given us the mandate (to form government). A person or political party cannot think of themselves as bigger when the people's verdict is otherwise. In the current situation, we are the big brother,” he said.

Rubbishing media reports of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray having demanded deputy chief minister’s post and key portfolios like home, finance, irrigation and PWD as a precondition for reuniting with BJP, Mathur said, “It is a figment of media’s imagination.”

“It is true that Uddhav Thackeray called up the Prime Minister and (BJP president) Amit Shah. He had called me as well. But it was just a courtesy call to congratulate us on our win. All these reports of him demanding ministries are completely baseless and bear no truth,” he said.

When asked if BJP will accept NCP’s offer of support to form the next government, Mathur said a decision will be taken by the central parliamentary board.