Nitin Gadkari—the man who got the brickbats for Bhartiya Janata Party's near split with ally Shiv Sena over the Chimur seat—is gearing up for a second run as the Bharatiya Janata Party's state president.
On Thursday, 49-year-old Gadkari was the sole candidate to file a nomination for the post of State BJP president. The elections to the post were scheduled for Friday but the procedure remains a mere formality in the absence of competition to Gadkari.
Gadkari had assumed the post of State president in September 2005 after senior leader Gopinath Munde resigned from the post on becoming the leader of opposition.
Gadkari took over and served as president for the one and a half years left of Munde's term. "We do not consider that as a full term so it was unanimously decided by the party to let him continue as president until 2009," BJP state spokesperson, Madhu Chavan, said.
Though Chavan insisted that the party's culture believes in 'selecting' a president rather than 'electing' one, the lack of any other nominee—aspiring candidates could have filed nominations until Thursday evening—underlines Gadkari's popularity and strength in the state.
In the previous "selections" to the post, senior leader Eknath Khadse made way for Gadkari by withdrawing his nomination at the eleventh hour. Khadse had, then, enjoyed Munde and late senior leader Pramod Mahajan's backing. However, this time, Khadse has stayed away from the process entirely. "It was decided last year that Gadkari will be given an extension," Khadse said, maintaining that there was no other reason for him to abstain from contesting.
A formal declaration of Gadkari's name as president will be made on Friday during a day-long convention of nearly 600 party representatives from across the state. During the convention, the party will also analyse the reasons for its poor performance in the municipal council elections. "Our performance has not been satisfactory," Munde admitted at a press briefing on Thursday.
"We will learn from this experience and prepare our strategy for the zilla parishad and corporation polls."
Munde also stated that the BJP-Sena alliance will fight the polls together. However, he added, in districts where there are seat-sharing issues with the Sena, the BJP will join hands with parties like the Peasants and Workers' Party.
"Any party other than the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena," Munde clarified.