Amid the ongoing BJP-Shiv Sena face-off over power-sharing resulting in a delay in government formation in Maharashtra, the bickering allies now seem to be pinning hopes on Union Minister Nitin Gadkari to end the stalemate which entered the thirteenth day on Wednesday.

Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur, where the latter is believed to have suggested the caretaker chief minister that the standoff should be resolved soon as the BJP-Shiv Sena combine stake claim at the earliest to form a stable government before the Supreme Court pronounces its verdict in the Ayodhya case.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari

As per media reports, Bhagwat is also believed to have conveyed to the saffron party that the RSS would have liked Gadkari to play peacemaker in the current situation in Maharashtra.

On Monday, a top Shiv Sena leader too had suggested calling upon Gadkari to resolve the crisis between the BJP and the Shiv Sena amicably.

Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s advisor Kishore Tiwari shot off a ”top priority” letter to Bhagwat seeking his urgent intervention in the matter.

“We have demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party should deploy its senior leader and Minister Nitin Gadkari for the negotiations with Sena. We are confident that he will not just honor ”alliance dharma” to the hilt, but also resolve the imbroglio within two hours,” Tiwari told IANS.

He claimed that once the impasse is broken, Sena President Uddhav Thackeray can be sworn-in as Chief Minister for the first 30 months and the BJP can decide who its nominee will be for the remaining 30-month tenure.

“Considering the current mood both within the BJP and the Sena given present Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ individualistic and overbearing style of functioning, it’s imperative that a politically seasoned person like Gadkari be repatriated to Maharashtra to fulfill the joint agenda of Hindutva and development of the two allies,” Tiwari said.

Tiwari’s letter came strategically — before Fadnavis called on Shah, Congress President Sonia Gandhi invited Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar for a tete-a-tete, and hours before Raut was scheduled to pay a ‘courtesy call’ on Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshyari — all for the common cause of breaking the state’s political deadlock.

For the BJP, the dilemma goes beyond Maharashtra, party circles indicate.

For one, it simply cannot afford to have a “Non-BJP” chief minister in the country’s second-most politically crucial state ahead of the much-anticipated Ayodhya case verdict, particularly since Shiv Sena may exploit the Ram temple issue in a big way.

Two, giving up the Maharashtra CM’s post would impact not only the Jharkhand Assembly elections that start November 30, but also trigger a cascading effect in other state Assembly elections scheduled for 2020.

Worried about the fallout among their voters, both the Congress and NCP are likely to adopt a cautious approach — revealing their cards only “if and after the BJP fails a floor test and the Sena actually decides to quit the NDA”, according to leaders on both sides.

Some like former Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam has even gone to the extent of warning the party leadership not to take the Sena-BJP war at face value and wait for the situation to crystallize before jumping in to extend support.

Similarly, Mumbai NCP President has also asked his party to ”wait-and-watch” the fluid political situation before making any commitment to propping up a Sena-led government.

(With inputs from sources)