Devendra Fadnavis emerges as a strong contender for the Chief Ministerial post.
As the state goes to poll today discussions have already started about who will be the chief ministerial candidate from BJP. According to sources, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis is emerging a front runner for the CM’s post. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too is backing Fadnavis for the top job. The 44 year old leader has an edge over other leaders due to his clean image and wide acceptability. In a rally held at Nagpur party leaders had chanted “Kendrat Narendra, Rajyat Devendra” (Modi at the Centre, Devendra in the state). Sources say Mr Fadnavis enjoys another advantage in the eyes of the party’s leadership – he can shift the power balance in Maharashtra, where the party has only a few known faces.
There has been a change of guard in the BJP ever since Modi had become prime minister. He has been inducting young leaders and giving them more responsibilities to take the party forward. On the other hand, veteran leaders like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi has been dropped from the Parliamentary board and they have been included in the newly formed ‘Margdarshak Mandal’.
The other contenders for the chief ministerial post include former state finance minister Eknath Khadse, and Opposition leader Vinod Tawde. Munde’s daughter Pankaja, who currently represents Parli constituency, is also emerging as a potential candidate.
According to sources, “Earlier, many leaders including Vinod Tawade and Eknath Khadse were vying to be projected as the face for the coveted post. However, Modiji is very clear that he wants to give an opportunity to a young and studious face and Fadnavis fits in that role. He is not involved in any corruption or scam. He is a dynamic leader. Therefore, we slowly started putting his face along with Modiji’s in all television advertisements.”
The BJP, which had emerged victorious in the Lok Sabha election is confident of winning the assembly election by going solo. The party has already broken its 25 year old alliance with Shiv Sena. After the demise of Goliath Munde BJP is struggling to find an able leader to fill his shoes. The saffron party has been relying heavily on Narendra Modi’s charisma to lure voters.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who addressed some 100 rallies in the state, has denied speculation that he was the party’s chief ministerial pick.
When asked if he was in the race for chief ministership, the Union Transport and Shipping Minister said there is no dearth of party leaders capable of occupying the coveted post.
“I am not in the race for chief ministership as I am not interested in returning to state politics, and there are many capable leaders (for the top post),” he said.
Gadkari also added that the party central leadership will decide the name of the legislative party leader after the polls.
Earlier BJP leader Eknath Khadse wanted a leader from north Maharashtra to occupy the top post. Khadse is a strong leader from the region which has always stood by the Sena-BJP alliance. According to him, leaders from north Maharashtra are yet to get their due.