Maha CM's race: MLA Khopde offers to quit for Gadkari; Fadnavis tight-lipped

Nagpur-East MLA Krishna Khopde offers to quit and vacate his seat to pave way for his mentor Nitin Gadkari as voices grow louder in BJP on bringing back the Union Minister to the Maharashtra as CM

Nagpur: Amid talk that BJP Maharashtra unit chief Devendra Fadnavis could be party's chief ministerial choice, Nagpur-East MLA Krishna Khopde today offered to quit and vacate his seat to pave way for his mentor Nitin Gadkari, after voices grew louder on bringing back the Union Minister to the state to don the mantle. Khopde, a second term MLA, told PTI that he was willing to resign for Gadkari from his constituency.

When contacted over the turn of events, Phadanvis however, remained tight-lipped and made no comments. Gadkari had last night said that he is ready to accept any responsibility given to him by the party's central leadership.

Devendra FadnavisDevendra Fadnavis

About 39 BJP MLAs all from Vidarbha region had met Gadkari at his residence here yesterday and demanded that he be made the state's Chief Minister. The senior BJP leader had later told the electronic media that the MLAs who met him "have a lot of respect for me and they are requesting me to be the Chief Minister.

"I have already clarified my stand not to return to state politics. Its for the party's central leadership to decide and I will accept any responsibility given to me," said the former chief of BJP which has emerged as the single largest part in Assembly elections with 123 MLAs, 22 short of majority in the 288-member Assembly.

The newly-elected MLAs, who were flown to Mumbai by a chartered flight to attend the Legislative Party Meeting which was eventually postponed to another date, had returned in the evening and drove straight to Gadkari's residence. In the October 15 state Assembly elections, Khopde who is also president of Nagpur city unit of BJP, had defeated advocate Abhijit Wanjari of the Congress by over 40,000 votes.

In 2009, Khopde had turned to be giant killer defeating then Congress stalwart and then Textile Minister Satish Chaturvedi by over 38,000 votes. Vidarbha had overwhelmingly come out in support of BJP, which won 44 out of 62 seats in the region. Yesterday, in Mumbai, senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar pitched for Gadkari as the Chief Minister.

"State BJP leaders feel that Nitin Gadkariji should come back to the state politics and take up the position of the CM of Maharashtra. He has a lot of administrative experience behind him which makes him an ideal candidate," Mungantiwar, also a member of the state BJP core committee had said.

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