Devendra Fadnavis, a unique young CM of Maharashtra

The most non-controversial yet famous Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis was always in hullabaloo for some or the other reason. Recently, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to Devendra Fadnavis for failing to disclose criminal cases pending against him in his 2014 election affidavit. A Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph issued a notice in a petition filed by Satish Ukey. The Association for Democratic Reform (ADR) has recently released its report on India’s 31 Chief Ministers, which also included the criminal cases registered against each of them. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had the highest number of criminal cases, 22, registered against them with 3 “serious criminal cases”. Some of the charges against Fadnavis include serious charges such as “abetment of such assault, if the assault is committed”, “voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means”, “being part of an unlawful assembly, rioting, voluntarily causing hurt and wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant with fraudulent intent”. Well, he is not the one in this list, including Arvind Kejriwal and Nitish Kumar there are many others who got mentioned.

Since Thursday morning, this issue has caught fire on social media; after winning in five States, the Opposition took every advantage of it to make their fortune in state’s upcoming elections. Fadnavis said that he didn’t mind topping the list of CMs with most criminal cases as the majority of charges against him were political in nature and were slapped on him in the course of his activism against the corrupt practices of the previous governments. Most of the cases are registered under Sections 143, 147 and 148 of the IPC, all related to unlawful assembly, rioting, etc. There is not a single case related to Section 324 of IPC for voluntary causing hurt by dangerous weapons as published in ADR report. Well, the bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph sought response of the Chief Minister on an appeal filed against a Bombay High Court order. Meanwhile, the Bombay HC had dismissed the plea of one Satish Ukey seeking annulment of Fadnavis’ election to the Maharashtra Assembly on the ground of alleged non-disclosure of all pending criminal cases against him.

Even otherwise, if we look at the overall performance of Fadnavis, the people of Maharashtra have a difference of opinion, but at large, his government has fairly performed.

There are several other reasons why Devendra is on Opposition’s radar; Maharashtra was ruled mostly by the leaders from Western Maharashtra i.e. Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur but he is from Vidarbha region, which is a backward region of Maharashtra, and he did a lot of development in his region. The Marathas and others ruled Maharashtra for most of the period; Fadnavis is a Brahmin. This is also a good change for diversity but not liked by many. There are no corruption charges against him. He is a young and hardworking person as against most of the politicians who are old and seasoned. He can get along with all types of people and carry them along. He has dealt maturely with Shiv Sena. The way he dealt with Anna Hazare’s agitation was praiseworthy. He has less ego issues and his utterances are sensible. He is a man of moderate views and not an extremist; he is trying his best to solve the farmer’s problems, but as we know no government was successful in solving these issues. In five years, what he tried doing is worth noticing.

The people of India highly regard him as the most youthful, accountable, and clean leader of Maharashtra. That is the reason why he probably sits there as the Chief Minister after leading Maharashtra BJP to a thumping election victory in 2014. The tenure of Devendra Fadnavis has been a period of tremendous growth for the average citizen of Maharashtra. Farm productivity has leapfrogged in the last four years while we are already well on our way to be a trillion dollars economy by 2025. He is a person whose government is doing well despite an unfriendly ally. He is a man who successfully faces so many political challenges with his government that has external support but not a complete majority.

He is the one who got electoral success for BJP across the State including in the strongholds of other parties. The impact of Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan (JSA), the much-acclaimed micro-irrigation project launched in 2015, couldn’t be assessed in the summer of 2016 because of a poor monsoon in the previous year. But the benefits are clearly showing now. After decent rains last year, thanks to JSA, groundwater levels across the State have increased significantly. Last April, in the drought-hit region of Marathwada, 4,640 tankers had to be deployed across 3,586 villages to provide drinking water. This year, it is down to 669 tankers for 886 villages. That’s a phenomenal reduction of 85 per cent. In fact, take a closer look at Latur district, which made national headlines after the city had no water and water trains had to be rushed in. In April 2016, the district required 260 tankers. This year, it has dropped to zero. In Osmanabad, the need has plummeted from 373 tankers to just one. His government removed the hurdles surrounding the 22 km Trans-Harbour Link project — India’s largest sea bridge connecting the island city of Mumbai and Raigarh district in the mainland that was stuck for years. Fadnavis has cleared a record 19,000 of the 20,000 files sent to him since October 31, 2014.

Shiv Sena, its ally in the current ruling government never fails to criticise him. Even the Critics and political opponents agree that Fadnavis is a soft-spoken, grounded and humble person. Rarely you will be hearing him speak heatedly with his staff, colleagues or journalists. It is this quality that wins trust and respect. Adding to that, given his RSS background, Fadnavis is extremely disciplined. He knows how much to speak and when to speak. More importantly, he knows when to keep quiet. But the big test for him will be in May 2019. Maharashtra will be crucial for Modi’s re-election and Fadnavis will have to deliver. He is neither corrupt nor inefficient.

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