With trends in more than half of the 288 assembly seats showing the BJP looking well on its way to forming the next government in Maharashtra, the question on everyone’s lips is who will be the chief minister.
Throughout the campaign, the party had no obvious chief ministerial candidate. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the BJP’s chief campaigner in the build-up to the October 15 polls.
The BJP’s state chief Devendra Fadnavis appears to be a likely candidate, but Pankaja Munde, the daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, shook up the CM race with her recent comments that she would be interested in the post. Prior to his untimely death in June, Gopinah Munde was thought to be the BJP’s likely chief ministerial candidate.?
Fadnavis will face serious competition in the form of senior Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, leaders of Opposition in the legislature Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde.
Fadnavis, 44, a Brahmin, enjoys a clear edge over the others, said BJP insiders. “PM Narendra Modi has said Fadnavis is Nagpur’s gift to Maharashtra and also appreciated his legislative performance in the past 15 years. He could also be party president Amit Shah’s choice,” said a senior party leader, requesting anonymity.
Fadnavis has the backing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and has a clean image
Though Gadkari, 58, also a Brahmin, has said he is not interested in returning to the state, he is being seen as a top contender because of his track record in the government, and management skills.
He is the leader who competed with late Gopinath Munde, who was the party’s CM choice.
Sources, however, said that Modi may not be willing to release Gadkari from his Union cabinet.