New Delhi: Putting rest to speculation that he could be a possible compromise chief ministerial candidate to resolve the deadlock with the Shiv Sena, senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari on Thursday ruled himself out from returning to Maharashtra politics and backed Devendra Fadnavis for a second term.
“Devendra Fadnavis has been chosen and anything in Maharashtra will be under him. I am in Delhi. There is no question of moving to Maharashtra,” Gadkari told reporters, expressing confidence that talks with the Sena would bear fruit soon. Endorsing Fadnavis, Gadkari said all efforts are being made to ensure a government under his leadership is formed in alliance with the Sena.
Gadkari's name was floated for the top job as the Sena leadership is said to be upset with Fadnavis, who has rejected the party's demand for sharing the CM post on a rotational basis.
Gadkari was considered to be more palatable for the Sena as he was close to party founder Bal Thackeray and has maintained cordial ties with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as well.
The veteran Maharashtra leader had stoked political fires over his possible role in the state by meeting Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Wednesday. The Union minister is currently in Nagpur to meet RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Gadkari on Thursday said that Bhagwat should not be linked to the government formation moves in Maharashtra. He emphasised that a decision will soon be taken on government formation and since the BJP won a higher number of seats than the Sena, the chief minister will be from his party.
"RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat or the Sangh have no relation with all this. It won't be appropriate to link the RSS chief to the goings-on (over government formation)," he said.
Amid the impasse over government formation, farm activist Kishore Tiwari, who joined the Shiv Sena ahead of the Assembly polls, recently said Bhagwat should depute Gadkari to resolve the power-tussle between the BJP and the Sena. He said people were worried over the Sangh's "silence" on the issue.
The Sena has also ruled out that Gadkari's name was being considered for the post of chief minister. Party leader Sanjay Raut earlier on Thursday denied reports that the party wants him to be the CM and that a meeting had taken place between Thackeray and Bhagwat on the issue.
Gadkari said the BJP and the Sena have got people's mandate to form the new government and very soon a decision will be taken. "The BJP has won 105 seats, obviously the chief minister will be of the BJP. The party that has won more seats in Assembly polls will have the chief minister's post," he said.
The latest developments come two weeks after poll results were declared in the state and as the deadline for the dissolving of the assembly on November 9 nears with no end to the deadlock in sight.
The BJP has said it will meet Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Thursday to inform him about their plans to form the state government, even as Shiv Sena has decided to move its MLAs to a hotel in Bandra to prevent any poaching attempts.
(With inputs from PTI)