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Gadkari says happy in Delhi; Stage set for Fadnavis as CM


Nagpur, October 23: A potential crisis in Maharashtra BJP over the choice of leader for the post of chief minister seems to have blown over today with Union minister Nitin Gadkari saying he has no differences with his colleague Devendra Fadnavis, considered as a front-runner for the post, and is happy in Delhi.

Against the backdrop of a chunk of BJP legislators from Vidarbha rooting for Gadkari to don the mantle as first chief minister of the saffron party, Fadnavis and Gadkari met twice in the day today.

"We have no differences. My political guru is Devendra's father Ganghadharrao Fadnavis who was an MLC while I was instrumental in bringing Devendra into politics," Gadkari said after Fadnavis called on him at his residence in Mahal area in the morning.

According to sources, the closed door meeting between Gadkari and Fadnavis apparently sealed the deal in favour of the latter.

"I am happy in Delhi. Fadnavis is my colleague and came to meet me on Diwali," Gadkari told reporters when asked whether he intends to return to state politics.

Though Fadnavis has maintained that his meeting with Gadkari was to extend Diwali greetings, the duo met again at BJP's regional office in Dhantoli area, with some BJP leaders and office-bearers in attendance, in late afternoon.

The sources said that the central leadership wanted to nip the feud between the two leaders from Nagpur in bud and might have asked Fadnavis to visit Gadkari.

Though Gadkari had earlier clarified his stand about not returning to state politics, saying it was for the BJP's central leadership to decide and that he would accept any responsibility given to him by the party, a group of 39 newly-elected BJP MLAs from Vidarbha region had met him here on Tuesday and pushed for him to be made the chief minister.

Leaders present at the Dhantoli office, where Gadkari and Fadnavis stayed for some 15 minutes for Laxmi Pujan, said that they got clear indications that Fadnavis will emerge as a consensus choice for the coveted post.

Speculations about Fadnavis being the choice of the top party leadership for the CM's chair started when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during one of his rallies in run-up to state Assembly elections, had described Fadnavis "as Nagpur's gift for Maharashtra".

After a group of 39 newly-elected BJP MLAs from Vidarbha region met Gadkari here on Tuesday and demanded that he be made the state's CM, Nagpur-East MLA Krishna Khopde had yesterday offered to quit and vacate his seat to pave way for his mentor Gadkari.

Moreover, two more MLAs - Sudhakar Kolhe (Nagur-South) and Sameer Meghe (Hingana) - also offered to resign from their respective seats to pave way for the Union minister. 

Later, five independent MLAs -Vinayak Patil (Ahmednagar), Shirish Choudhary (Amalner), Ganpat Gaikwad (Kalyan-East), Mahesh Landge (Bhosari) and Ravi Rane (Badnera) - met both Gadkari and Fadanvis separately yesterday to offer support if the Chief Minister is chosen from Vidarbha region.

Though senior BJP leaders and Gadkari acolytes Sudhir Mungantiwar and Vinod Tawde had raised their pitch in favour of Gadkari, former national president of BJP, another senior leader Eknath Khadse expressed his displeasure over the "pressure tactics" of Gadkari.

BJP has emerged as the single largest party in recently held Maharashtra elections pocketing 123 seats, including one won by its ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, but has fallen short of forming government of its own as it faces the shortfall of 22 MLAs in the 288-member House.

Though Sharad Pawar-led NCP has extended "unconditional outside support" to BJP for forming government, the party has not taken a call on it as its estranged ally Shiv Sena is coming around for rapprochement.

The BJP will take call on its Legislature Party leader, who will be its chief minister, after Diwali with senior party leader Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra Observer J P Nadda scheduled to visit Mumbai.  (PTI)























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