Even as senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar is pitching for Union Minister Nitin Gadkari as chief minister of Maharashtra, a group of newly-elected party MLAs from Vidarbha region today assembled outside the residence of Gadkari in Mahal area of the city and raised slogans hailing his leadership. Gadkari, who arrived in Mumbai from New Delhi today, was accorded a rousing reception by the party workers and leaders at Nagpur airport for the splendid victory of BJP in the just-concluded Assembly polls.
Addressing party workers, Gadkari thanked people of Maharashtra for giving massive mandate to BJP. When reporters asked him about Mungantiwar demanding that he should become chief minister, Gadkari refused to comment, saying he had already clarified that he did not want to return to state politics. A good number of MLAs who had flown to Mumbai yesterday for the crucial BJP Legislative Party meeting, which could not take place, returned to the city today and drove straight to Gadkari’s residence in eastern Nagpur and raised slogans in his favour.
The development is being viewed as a show of strength to send signal to party leadership which is yet to name the chief minister. Earlier in the day, Mungantiwar, former state unit BJP chief and a member of party core committee, told reporters in Mumbai that Gadkari should come to state politics. State BJP leaders feel that Nitin Gadkariji should come back to the state politics and take up the position of the CM of Maharashtra.
Among other names doing rounds, incumbent state unit BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, also from Nagpur, is considered as the strong contender for the post of chief minister. BJP, which contested solo after severing its 25-year-old bond with Shiv Sena, pocketed 123 seats in an unprecedented performance.
The saffron party is facing the shortfall of 22 seats to reach the magic figure of 145 seats it needed in the 288-member House. The Vidarbha region, where statehood is a contentious issue, has overwhelmingly come out in support of BJP which won 44 seats out of 62 seats in the region.
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