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Maharashtra polls: BJP eyes win, race begins for CM seat

A front-runner for the CM post is Maharashtra BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis, but he will face serious competition in the form of Nitin Gadkari, Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2014 21:19 IST
Dharmendra Jore
Dharmendra Jore
Hindustan Times
Assembly elections 2014,assembly elections results,assembly elections live

With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sniffing a majority in the assembly polls, the race for Maharashtra's chief minister’s job has gained momentum.

A front-runner for the top office is state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, but he 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.

The latest to enter the race is Sudhir Munganttiwar from Chandrapur.

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.

Meanwhile, Khadse, 62, a strong leader from the Leva Patil community, will not let go of his claim easily either. He has repeatedly said north Maharashtra, the region he comes from, has never got the CM’s post.

The leader has showed he has the ability and skills to take on the Sena whenever needed.

He was finance and irrigation minister in the Sena-BJP government in the state and has been Opposition leader in the Assembly for the past five years.

The only Maratha in the BJP’s top run, Tawde, 51, is banking on his communication and organising skills, and the support of the community to help him get the CM’s seat.

He rose up the ranks in the party and has played a crucial role in managing disgruntled alliance partners. To strengthen his claim, Tawde, a member of the upper house, has contested an Assembly seat from the city.

When contacted, Khadse said the decision will be taken by the legislative party and the party’s high command. “There’s no issue about the CM’s post as of now,” he said.

First Published: Oct 17, 2014 17:00 IST