New Delhi: The air dash by two Shiv Sena emissaries — Anil Desai and Subhash Desai — to the capital seems to have achieved little in terms of bringing any clarity over their party’s terms of trade with the new big brother Bharatiya Janata Party. Perhaps, the only the element of certainty is that the negotiations have not officially begun.
But this haze has now been overshadowed by the open contest in the BJP between the two Nagpur Brahmins — Nitin Gadkari and Devendra Fadnavis — for the chief minister’s post. Gadkari supporters are not leaving any one in doubt about their preferences. Sudhir Mungantiwar, the man who was upstaged by Fadnavis for the state president’s post, and who remains a member of the state level core group, has referred to Gadkari as the tallest leader from Maharashtra with the required experience and administrative ability to run the state. By contrast, Fadnavis has no ministerial experience.
Apart from Mungantiwar, some 40 other legislators have also rallied round Gadkari. So, if the BJP really believes in internal democracy and gives the freedom to its legislators to have a say in the choice of leader, and not just endorse the hand-picked nominee, then perhaps a trial of strength is on the cards. For a long time Fadnavis has been the chosen one on the premise that Gadkari as the union minister has already given up on the chief minister’s post. The union minister still sticks to that — “I am happy in Delhi, and do not want to come back Mumbai” line — but the catch lies in the rider that comes along with it.”I will abide by the party’s wishes,” he says, now. Ignoring the voice of 40 legislators in a party of 122, which needs the support of another 23 to run a government, implies that the government will be born in dissidence.
In all likelihood, there is a lot of time before the government takes shape. There would be a lot of behind the scenes activities and dramatic announcements like the one by the Nagpur East MLA Krishna Khopde that he is willing to give up his seat for Gadkari to enter the legislative assembly in the event of him becoming the chief minister.
As usual, the RSS would step in to blow the whistle and all the swayamsewak legislators would fall in line. The point of interest being whom does Prime Minister Narendra Modi trust for running the Mumbai Mantralaya — an experienced and mature administrator or a greenhorn? But one thing appears certain — denying Vidarbha the leadership of Maharashtra is not an option. It has contributed 44 out of the 62 seats from the region to the BJP’s kitty and if the region’s claim is ignored then it would be yet another chapter in the long saga of injustice. Modi would then be no different from Pawar at least in ignoring the rightful claims of Vidarbha.