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RSS Throws Its Weight Behind Troubleshooter Gadkari to Broker Peace With Sulking Shiv Sena

Sources in the Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, said the RSS would have liked Gadkari to take charge of the situation in Maharashtra but the Union minister is not interested in returning to state politics.


Updated:November 6, 2019, 8:20 AM IST
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RSS Throws Its Weight Behind Troubleshooter Gadkari to Broker Peace With Sulking Shiv Sena
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari with Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. (PTI)

Mumbai: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has emerged as the frontrunner for the RSS to broker peace with an adamant Shiv Sena after the deadlock over government formation reached the doors of the Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat.

In a closed-door meeting with Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday, Bhagwat is said to have suggested to the caretaker chief minister that he must end the stalemate soon and stake claim to form a stable government before the verdict in the Ayodhya case, which is expected in a few days.

Sources in the Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, said the RSS would have liked Gadkari to take charge of the situation in Maharashtra. Gadkari, who is in the good books of the RSS and has often received their backing, has earlier helmed the state but is reportedly not interested in returning to state politics.

The support for Gadkari to be the troubleshooter also came from the Sena, with farm activist Kishore Tiwari — who joined the Uddhav Thackeray-led party ahead of the Assembly polls — saying Bhagwat should depute Gadkari to resolve the power-tussle.

In a letter to Bhagwat, Tiwari said the RSS chief should take a serious note of the situation and intervene to end the deadlock over government formation in Maharashtra. He said people were worried over the Sangh's "silence" on the issue.

"Gadkari will be able to resolve the situation within two hours," Tiwari said, when asked about his letter to Bhagwat.

Claiming that Gadkari is being "sidelined" by the BJP, Tiwari said if the party or Amit Shah authorise Gadkari to intervene, he can resolve the impasse in two hours.

The stalemate between the allies continues over government formation in the state, with the Sena demanding an equal share in power. The tussle continues despite results of the Assembly polls, announced on October 24, giving the BJP-Sena alliance a combined seat strength of 161, way past the 145 majority mark in the 288-member House. The BJP won 105 seats, Sena 56, Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 54, and the Congress 44.

Maharashtra Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday hinted at a possible breakthrough in the stand-off, saying "good news" can come at any moment. His comments came after the meeting of state BJP core team at Fadnavis' official residence 'Varsha' in south Mumbai.

Sena MP Sanjay Raut, however, said his party was firm on a written assurance from the senior alliance partner over power sharing, including rotating the chief minister's post for 2.5 years. The junior partner also indicated that its proposal for rotational chief ministership is under active discussion with the BJP.

However, BJP leader Girish Mahajan later said the party was not ready to discuss sharing of the chief minister's post with Sena, and Fadnavis will become the next chief minister. Mahajan, a senior minister in the outgoing state cabinet, also rejected the Sena's demand of a 'written assurance' before talks for government formation started.

"We have decided that Devendra Fadnavis would be the chief minister for the next five years. BJP is ready to hold talks with Sena over other portfolios," he said.

"We are not India and Pakistan for the talks to be held amid such animosity. Leaders of both the parties can meet and work out the power sharing formula. There is no point in demanding such things in writing," the BJP leader said about the Sena's demand of written assurance.

Mahajan also expressed hope that a breakthrough will be found in the next two days.

The Sena had called off a meeting to hold formal talks with the BJP on October 29 after Fadnavis rejected Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's claims that a formula had been "agreed upon" on "equal sharing of power" ahead of the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May this year.

High-profile meetings in New Delhi on Monday between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his Congress counterpart Sonia Gandhi, and the one between Fadnavis and Shah, had failed to give any indication of breaking the logjam over government formation.

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