After a show of strength earlier, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Diwali said he wasn\'t in the running for the post of chief minister in Maharashtra and that he had no differences with potential chief ministerial designate, Devendra Fadnavis. Gadkari, who met with the BJP\'s Maharashtra unit chief twice on Thursday, said he was instrumental in bringing Fadnavis into politics. \"We have no differences. My political guru is Devendra\'s father Ganghadharrao Fadnavis who was an MLC while I was instrumental in bringing Devendra into politics,\" Gadkari said after Fadnavis called on him at his residence in Mahal area in the morning. \"I am happy in Delhi. Fadnavis is my colleague and came to meet me on Diwali,\" Gadkari told reporters when asked whether he intends to return to state politics. Gadkari and Fadnavis during the meeting yesterday. PTI imageGadkari and Fadnavis during the meeting yesterday. PTI image According to sources quoted by PTI, the closed door meeting between Gadkari and Fadnavis apparently sealed the deal in favour of the BJP state unit chief.
Though Fadnavis has maintained that his meeting with Gadkari was to extend Diwali greetings, the duo met again at BJP\'s regional office in Dhantoli area, with some BJP leaders and office-bearers in attendance, late that afternoon. PTI quoted sources as saying that the central leadership of the party had engineered the meeting in order to quell any speculation about a public feud between the two leaders. Leaders present at the Dhantoli office, where Gadkari and Fadnavis stayed for some 15 minutes for Laxmi Pujan, said that they got clear indications that Fadnavis will emerge as a consensus choice for the coveted post. The meetings come after 39 recently elected BJP MLAs from the Vidarbha region met with him on Tuesday and insisted that Gadkari be made the next chief minister of the state. Speculations about Fadnavis being the choice of the top party leadership for the CM\'s chair started when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during one of his rallies in run-up to state Assembly elections, had described Fadnavis \"as Nagpur\'s gift for Maharashtra\". After a group of 39 newly-elected BJP MLAs from Vidarbha region met Gadkari here on Tuesday and demanded that he be made the state\'s CM, Nagpur-East MLA Krishna Khopde had on Wednesday offered to quit and vacate his seat to pave way for his mentor Gadkari.
Moreover, two more MLAs - Sudhakar Kolhe (Nagur-South) and Sameer Meghe (Hingana) - also offered to resign from their respective seats to pave way for the Union minister. Later, five independent MLAs - Vinayak Patil (Ahmednagar), Shirish Choudhary (Amalner), Ganpat Gaikwad (Kalyan-East), Mahesh Landge (Bhosari) and Ravi Rane (Badnera) - met both Gadkari and Fadanvis separately on Thursday to offer support if the Chief Minister is chosen from Vidarbha region. Though senior BJP leaders and Gadkari acolytes Sudhir Mungantiwar and Vinod Tawde had raised their pitch in favour of Gadkari, former national president of BJP, another senior leader Eknath Khadse expressed his displeasure over the \"pressure tactics\" of Gadkari. BJP has emerged as the single largest party in recently held Maharashtra elections pocketing 123 seats, including one won by its ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, but has fallen short of forming government of its own as it faces the shortfall of 22 MLAs in the 288-member House. Though Sharad Pawar-led NCP has extended \"unconditional outside support\" to BJP for forming government, the party has not taken a call on it as its estranged ally Shiv Sena is coming around for rapprochement. The BJP will take a call on its Legislature Party leader, who will be its chief minister, after Diwali, with senior party leader Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra Observer JP Nadda scheduled to visit Mumbai.