Today I won’t be making any report card or getting in analysis, just writing the political scenario in Maharashtra. The name Devendra Fadnavis is known to me from a very young age, being a Nagpurkar for some decades (my maternal uncle resides in Nagpur) I am seeing his steady growth. And now as a journalist, my connection is even stronger. After Vilas Rao Deshmukh and R R Patil, he is one of the Chief Ministers who never hesitated to meet people. Even if you leave a miscall his office reverts back. Communication is the biggest strength of this leader of masses.
Devendra Fadnavis is a pragmatic, forward-looking and solution-oriented working politician. Perception may vary from person to person and politician to politician, but he is one of the leaders who is liked by grassroots. One has to be a neutral observer and go beyond what is apparent. Here I shall try to give my opinion about him. The people of Maharashtra have rejected all other political parties to form the government but the majority of people have preferred Devendra Fadnavis as CM.
The people of India highly regard him as the most youthful, accountable, and clean leader of Maharashtra. After the Narendra Modi wave that rocked the entire nation in 2014 including Maharashtra, there was a power shuffle in the State. With a clear majority in Assembly elections, BJP decided to form a government. BJP’s Party President Amit Shah quickly went through all probable candidates for the post of Chief Minister and declared the name of dynamic Devendra Fadnavis.
It was expected that Fadnavis will be declared as the Chief Minister in the State as political experts from the state had predicted the same. There was a strong reason for it. His honesty, clean image and also his tenure as Leader of Opposition in the State assembly was marvellous. After he was chosen as leader of opposition in 2010, Fadnavis proved himself through his speeches and work. With qualities like studious nature, vision and to take any question to a logical conclusion, he literally kept then the ruling Congress-NCP led government on its toes. Many times, he made them beached and put in defensive mode. He was the key person to create an anti-environment image of the Congress-NCP government.
After being chosen as Chief Minister Fadnavis did not waste his time and quickly swung into action as the state was facing many serious problems like drought, farmers suicides, labour issues, law and order, and most importantly the empty treasury of the State. Sensing the urgency to address those issues, he first took control over administration and on the other side made several teams of young and experienced senior ministers. Once his cabinet was settled, he started to take quick decisions related to the development of the state. He was holding most of the crucial portfolios and somewhat that has overburdened him.
A man who successfully faced so many political challenges with his government which has external support and not the complete majority. A man who can get electoral success for BJP across the State including in the strongholds of other parties. Lastly and most importantly, the most popular leader in Maharashtra in terms of approval rating is way ahead of all others. Despite having all merits, a few things strongly went against him.
Maharashtra was ruled mostly by the Marathas and Fadnavis is a Brahmin. This was actually a good chance for diversity but the egos of tall leaders became a hindrance. He also had hidden enemies within the party. He is a young and hardworking person against most politicians who are old. As far as corruption or governance is concerned, he has not been able to hold good control over bureaucrats & administration. The alliance Shiv Sena was another jolt. This is where he needed huge improvement. But the best thing is that he could remain non-controversial, non-corrupt which is always been his strength. There were many allegations made against him but he successfully sailed through them.
Another big trouble he created for himself is cutting other BJP state leaders to size and centralizing all decision-making to CMO instead of individual ministries. BJP has recruited local leaders from other parties, so corruption at local levels has not changed even a bit. Only the party taking the cut has changed. Here I don’t blame Devendra because managing all such outside infiltration was tricky.
Another big mistake of BJP that has cost Devendra is instead of contesting all the 288 seats, the BJP contested only 160 seats and gave away 120 seats to Shiv Sena expecting the alliance in order. Out of 160 seats contested, BJP got 105 elected, that is 2 out of 3. If BJP had contested all the seats, it might have scored 180 to 200 seats getting almost 2/3 majority. Devendra Fadnavis made some incorrect assumptions while contesting these elections. Some of his moves like picking up MPs from INC and NCP was damaging. More than 50% of such candidates lost their seats. At the same time, the BJP worker, who were neglected or sidelined due to these imported leaders started silently revolting. Looking statistically, BJP may not have considerably lost ground in terms of vote percentage to a large extent, but they lost to the power politics of opposition.
Looking at the current picture, BJP is still not in a bad position, as they seem to have maintained a moral high ground. Even though INC, NCP and Shiv Sena alliance formed bargained government, BJP seems to gain in long term. BJP got the opportunity to observe everything from the opposition benches and waiting their opportunity to form the government on their own for the next time. In such a scenario many senior BJP leaders need to tame their egos and mind their tongues; these loose cannons are causing damage to Devendra as a leader and BJP as a party. This is an appropriate time, that BJP needs to come up with a strong strategy and project Devendra as their prominent and permeant face in the state.
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