MUMBAI: Union Minister for Road Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari is taking the centre stage on the shaky Maharashtra dais. Senior leader Gopinath Munde’s death has opened up a leadership crisis in the state unit of the BJP, where factionalism is rampant.
Now, the former BJP president will be taking major decisions in the Maharashtra unit, but will not be involved in its day-to-day functioning. There is intense competition among the state BJP leaders to step into Munde’s shoes. In such a situation, Gadkari is the only leader whose orders will be followed without any opposition by the juniors. Gadkari indicated at a BJP conclave here that he was ready to take on a big responsibility.
“Many politicians are meeting me in Delhi asking whether there is any space for them in the party. I asked them to go to the state leaders. The state core committee should take a decision on their induction in consultation with district level leaders. If any conflict arises, I will take the decision,” Gadkari had told 5,000 odd BJP officials present at the conclave.
He may also plan the party’s strategy for the upcoming Assembly elections. And his word will be final on the induction of leaders from other parties in the BJP. Some leaders believe that Gadkari will be too busy in Delhi. Hence, it will not be possible for him to look into the state affairs. “He will guide us. We will consult him once in a fortnight,” a leader said.
Over the past fortnight, a couple of outsiders had queued up to join the BJP. Gadkari will welcome only leaders, whom he believe are favourable to him.
The party has floated the concept of collective leadership which empowers four leaders – Devendra Fadnavis, Vinod Tawde, Eknath Khadse and Sudhir Mungantiwar – to plan its strategy. However, there is no unanimity on who will lead the government if the BJP want to come to power. Gadkari’s opinion will be crucial at such a juncture. Gadkari has apprehensions about fellow Nagpur resident Fadnavis and Mungantiwar, who is from Vidharbha.