Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis, who were recently in news for reportedly being in the race for the top post, made separate visits to the RSS headquarters here for a one-on-one meeting with Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat.
Fadnavis met the RSS chief Friday evening while Gadkari met him Saturday morning.
Despite the two leaders making a media spectacle of bonhomie at Gadkari’s place two days ago, the visits triggered a lot of speculation.
While Fadnavis could manage to do his visit without media attention, a scooter-borne Gadkari had media cameras following him from his residence right up to the headquarters about 300 metres away, in the process landing in a new controversy – driving without wearing helmet.
Fielding queries from the mediapersons as he emerged after the meeting with the RSS chief, Gadkari answered a question about what transpired in the meeting as “courtesy Diwali visit after Bhagwat’s return to Nagpur”.
Asked if the Chief Minister issue was discussed, Gadkari answered in negative. “We did discuss politics along with many other issues like bio-fuel and organic farming, but Maharashtra didn’t figure in the meeting,” he said.
Gadkari offered no reply to driving without helmet and walked away.
There was no response from the RSS on the meetings.
Sources close to RSS said, “While they customarily do visit the headquarters on Dussehra and Diwali, nothing can be said about what all they spoke.”
Asked how Fadnavis meeting went unnoticed while Gadkari was caught on camera, the RSS sources said, “We have no clue about it.”
A close Gadkari aide, however, said, “For the past few days, mediapersons, particularly from the electronic media, who have come from far and wide, have been virtually camping near Gadkari’s place. We have not informed anyone about the visit, which was annual Diwali courtesy visit.”
According to Nagpur traffic police website, wearing helmet is compulsory and flouting the rule attracts a fine of Rs 100 under Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
When contacted, Nagpur police traffic branch inspector P B Lokhande said police were “conducting an inquiry”.