High-flier Fadnavis in Mayday dash to Delhi
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday met BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, a veteran Marathi leader.
The effort is being seen as a desperate effort to seek their help in clinching a deal with the aggressive Shiv Sena that has been driving a hard bargain for government formation in Maharashtra.
The 49-year-old Fadnavis, who was seen to be flying high in Maharashtra’s political arena at a relatively young age, rushed to Delhi on Monday against the backdrop of the pre-poll ally Shiv Sena opening talks with the Opposition NCP-Congress combine.
The stalemate over government formation entered the 12th day on Monday after poll results came on October 24.
Fadnavis first called on BJP chief and home minister Amit Shah, followed by general secretary and Maharashtra election in-charge Bhupendra Yadav and then Gadkari, the road transport and highways minister.
Gadkari, the Nagpur MP and a veteran of Maharashtra politics, had virtually been pushed to the fringes in this Assembly poll. Gadkari has a good rapport with both NCP chief Sharad Pawar as well as Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray and he can play a crucial role in resolving the stalemate, BJP insiders said.
Amit Shah — unlike in Haryana where he had taken the lead in clinching a deal with Dushyant Chautala — had chosen to remain out of focus as the Sena played hardball.
Party insiders indicated that Fadnavis had earlier assured the central leadership he would clinch a deal with the Sena on his own and was now seeking help.
“We are sure that now the crisis will be resolved in a day or two with the intervention of both Amitbhai and Nitinji. The Sena is using the opportunity to bargain and we are sure the party will come around,” a BJP leader associated with Maharashtra affairs said.
Initially, there were doubts over the ability of Fadnavis to negotiate the caste- and faction-ridden political landscape of Maharashtra. Despite being a non-Maratha, he managed to run the government in Maharashtra successfully and deftly managed the Sena, a troublesome ally.
Believed to be a choice of the Prime Minister himself, Fadnavis, was seen to have emerged a tall leader of the saffron family in a short span and whispers about him taking over the reins of the country one day, too had started. His sudden rise didn’t go down well, not only among the Opposition ranks but also inside the BJP too.
The Sena is demanding a 50:50 power sharing, including the chief minister’s post, and claiming that such an agreement had been reached with BJP chief Shah ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut met governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari on Monday and told reporters: “The Shiv Sena doesn’t want to be an obstacle in government formation. Anybody who has a majority can stake claim.”
BJP sources claimed that after the intervention of Shah and Gadkari, the Sena would be offered some “lucrative” portfolios and even a 50:50 share, barring the chief minister’s post, and that would ensure a breakthrough.
In the 288-member Assembly, the BJP has only 105 seats, making it heavily dependent on the Sena to form the government in the state. The Sena has 56 seats.