Among the 39 BJP MLAs who gathered at Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s residence on Tuesday evening, 28 are first-time MLAs. In fact, of the party’s total 44 MLAs from Vidarbha, only 16 are repeat winners.
Besides state party president Devendra Fadnavis, the other MLAs from the region who did not catch the flight to Nagpur included Sudhir Mungantiwar, Chainsukh Sancheti and Sunil Deshmukh. The identity of the fifth MLA could not be ascertained.
Gadkari is known to have supported the nominations of many of the first-time MLAs as well as party veterans. For instance, the MLA from Chandrapur, Nana Shamkule, faced opposition from party cadres, but Gadkari sternly told them to back him.
Among the new MLAs were Ashish Deshmukh, son of former state Congress chief Ranjit Deshmukh, and Sameer Meghe, son of former Congress MP Datta Meghe who is now with the BJP.
“We have no doubt about Fadnavis’s ability, he is our respected leader. But Gadkari has experience, not just in politics but also in administration. If he becomes the CM, it will help the state to march ahead,” said Deshmukh.
“We thought we must meet our leader and express our gratitude to him. We sought his blessings and also exhorted him to take over as the CM as we think he is the most capable leader in the state,” said another MLA.