- Nitin Gadkari said he would "meet people" over the situation in the state
- His name has floated around as a possible compromise candidate
- Mr Gadkari was close to Bal Thackeray, has close ties with Uddhav
A BJP-Shiv Sena government should take power in Maharashtra under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's leadership, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today, asserting that his party would win the Sena's support.
"Devendra Fadnavis is the choice and he should lead the government. The BJP won 105 seats so the Chief Minister should be from the BJP," Nitin Gadkari said as his sudden flight to Nagpur, the headquarters of the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), fueled speculation that he was an option for consensus chief minister to mollify the Sena.
Reacting to the speculation, Mr Gadkari said: "I am in Delhi, there is no question of my coming to Maharashtra."
A BJP delegation met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari today.
"People of Maharashtra have given mandate to 'Mahayuti' (alliance). There is delay in government formation. Today, we met the Governor to discuss the legal options and political situation in the state," state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil told reporters.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena won a clear majority in last month's Maharashtra election, with 105 seats for the BJP and 56 for the Sena. But since the verdict on October 24, government formation has been stalled by the Sena's demand for a "50:50" deal it says was discussed with BJP chief Amit Shah earlier this year, before the national elections.
With just 24 hours to form government, the Sena remains firm on its chief minister for half the term and an equal share in portfolios. The BJP has maintained that Devendra Fadnavis will continue as Chief Minister for a full term.
Mr Gadkari, a senior BJP leader of Maharashtra, is likely to meet with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur. He told reporters, however, that Mohan Bhagwat or the RSS had "no role in this" and shouldn't have any either.
Mr Gadkari's name has floated around as a possible compromise candidate for Chief Minister if that is what it takes to resolve the deadlock with the Shiv Sena.
The Sena's leadership is believed to be deeply upset with Devendra Fadnavis, who has rejected the party's demand for sharing the chief minister's post on a rotational basis.
Mr Fadnavis's meeting with Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday night is seen as significant in this context.
Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut has denied any meeting or talks between his party chief Uddhav Thackeray and Mohan Bhagwat.
The Shiv Sena is seen to be more amenable to Mr Gadkari, who was a minister in an earlier BJP-Sena government in Maharashtra and is close to Sena founder Bal Thackeray. Mr Gadkari also has cordial ties with his son Uddhav Thackeray.
Over the weekend, Sena leader Kishore Tiwari wrote to Mohan Bhagwat suggesting that Mr Gadkari be asked to resolve the crisis. "Gadkari will be able to resolve the situation within two hours," Mr Tiwari told reporters when asked about his letter to Mr Bhagwat.