MUMBAI: Amid the hectic lobbying for his coronation as the next Maharashtra Chief Minister Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari on Thursday claimed that he was not in the race with state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis for the coveted post.
Fadnavis and Gadkari met twice in the day. First, Fadnavis called on his senior at the latter’s residence in Nagpur in the morning. Later, the two leaders held informal talks at the BJP office here.
“There is no race between us. I brought him (Fadnavis) into politics. His father had introduced me to politics. I have been repeatedly saying that I am happy in Delhi and will not return to the state politics,” he said. However, he maintained that he will abide by whatever decision the party takes.
Fadnavis, a front-runner for the post, had suffered a setback after the BJP workers gave Gadkari rousing welcome at the Nagpur airport on Monday and almost 20 newly elected legislators openly backed him for the top job.
Sena to Join Govt
In a clear signal that it was ready to patch up with its estranged ally, the BJP, the Shiv Sena on Thursday made it clear that its MPs will attend the dinner to be hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Sunday.
The Shiv Sena also has maintained that it was willing to join the BJP-led Government in Maharashtra and the talks with the BJP leaders regarding government formation will begin after Monday.
The change in the Sena’s stand is significant in the backdrop of its chief Uddhav Thackeray’s statement that the party will not initiate any move to support the BJP unless it receives a concrete proposal in this regard.
However, the BJP’s aggressive stand that it might form a minority government without the Shiv Sena while taking help from the other smaller parties, independents and outside support from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has forced the Shiv Sena to soften its stand. A section in the Shiv Sena was of the opinion that it should sit in the Opposition to “expose” the BJP’s tacit understanding with the NCP. However, the rival section in the party was not ready to let go of the opportunity to return to power after a gap of 15 years. This section reportedly forced a rethink on Uddhav’s part.
“The PM is going to share his ideas on the country’s development at the dinner. We have received the invitation to attend the event and we are going to remain present there,” Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai, who is playing a key role in talks with the BJP, said.
There was speculation that Uddhav will also attend the dinner and hold talks with PM Narendra Modi.Desai, however, parried the question whether Uddhav will accompany his party’s MPs to the event.
Desai admitted that the Shiv Sena had expressed its wish to join the government underthe BJP’s leadership. Desai and his senior party colleague Subhash Desai had gone to Delhi on Tuesday night to meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP Maharashtra incharge J P Nadda to discuss the government formation. Rajnath had refused to give them an ear as they did reached at his home without prior appointment. Nadda too did not meet them.
In an indirect confirmation of the development Desai said that they had met Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and “other leaders”.
According to him, while the BJP will get 28 portfolios, the Shiv Sena will get 14.
Senior BJP leader Vinod Tawde justified the formula. “We had decided in 1995 that the party which will get more seats will get a bigger share in the power. This time, the number of our legislators is almost double than that of the Sena,” Tawde said.