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'Gadkari as CM' Gains Weight

Experience, stature work in his favour as BJP has loads of first-timers and defectors as MLAs; seen as bold leader to take on black money holders; minority government buzz makes Sena open talks window.

Published: 22nd October 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2014 07:49 AM   |  A+A-

Nitin-Gadkari

MUMBAI: Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari is likely to be the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra. According to a source in the BJP, the party has almost finalised Gadkari’s name for the coveted post after a day of dramatic events. The former BJP chief is likely to be elected as the Legislature Party leader in a meeting to be held on Monday, which will be attended by central observers Rajnath Singh and J P Nadda.

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The party believes it needs someone senior to handle the uncertain political situation in the State, especially when almost 50 per cent of its legislators are first-timers and 24 joined the BJP after defecting from other parties. “Gadkariji can handle them well on the basis of his experience and relations with other parties. This is the only advantage he has over (State party chief) Devendra Fadnavis,” a source said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestion to reveal the names of some people whose black money is parked abroad is another reason behind choosing Gadkari for the job. Most of the names are from Mumbai. Some of them are big shots in the city. They might hold the new government to ransom if their names are divulged. In such a situation, the State will need a shrewd and bold CM. Lobbying for Gadkari intensified as soon as he reached Nagpur in the evening. At least 20 newly-elected MLAs from Nagpur met the Union minister and asked him to take up the CM post.

Meanwhile, firm in its determination to maintain a safe distance from Shiv Sena, the BJP indicated that it might lead a minority government. “We will lead a minority government with a majority,” said Fadnavis. His confidence that the BJP can keep Sena at bay stems from the backing of 13 other MLAs, who extended their support to the party. Sensing the changing political scenario, the Sena despatched senior leaders Subhash Desai and Anil Desai to hold talks with Nadda.

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