Quite a large number of BJP and Shiv Sena activists believe that former BJP president Nitin Gadkari is the villain of the piece, for having triggered the present crisis in the relations between the two parties.
With no major role for him after the Delhi assembly elections, and Gopinath Munde dominating affairs in the state unit, Gadkari wanted to regain the centre stage. And his meeting with MNS chief Raj Thackeray was an attempt to gain some grip over the state unit and emerge the main face of the BJP in Maharashtra, say BJP leaders, who don't favour Gadkari.
His connections with politicians across the spectrum has always been a concern for the party. Many believe the party has not been an aggressive opposition mainly due Gadkari's closeness to NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
A long time observer of Gadkari's politics say he is now in former SP leader Amar Singh's mould. Even party men who are otherwise neutral, vis-a-vis, the Munde-Gadkari camps, emphasise that Gadkari's move was wrong and that it just helped resurrect Raj Thackeray, who had been reduced to a minor player in state politics.
"Raj was slowly losing clout among the common people as well as his supporters. He was nowhere seen as a contender in the 2014 elections. But by holding the so-called secret meeting and urging Raj not to field candidates against the Sena-BJP alliance, Gadkari gave him an importance he never deserved. And it also helped strain the over 20-year-old relationship with Sena leaders.
His supporters, however, emphasise that he had met Raj with good intentions; that he wanted to ensure that the MNS did not inflict on the alliance the kind of damage it had caused in 2009.
Gadkari, who enjoys the tacit support of the RSS, is an acknowledged troubleshooter. He was not only preferred to resolve issues within the BJP, but also in the NDA. When LK Advani, upset with the dominating nature of Narendra Modi, resigned from the party, it was Gadkari who pacified Advani.
"Gadkari is more of a back room politician. He will be contesting his first election, from Nagpur, this time," said a BJP leader.
He has always been close to the RSS leadership. His elevation to the post of the BJP national president was due to this. Such was his clout that the BJP even amended its constitution to give Gadkari a second term.