Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is BJP’s star campaigner appealed to voters to give Devendra Fadnavis a second chance, he predicted Fadnavis would be the next CM. He expressed full confidence that the BJP and the Shiv Sena would form the next government and predicted, the ruling parties may win more than 250 seats. Endorsing Fadnavis, Modi said that Devendra had played a vital role in the state’s growth. Devendra fairly performed and he ruled for five years inspite of many attacks from opposition. He has implemented the Jalyukta Shivar scheme (rural micro irrigation) that has transformed the water situation in the countryside. I have spoken to quite a few people who vouch for its success. He has also stood his own amongst the Maratha giants and seems to have become popular as can be seen from the election victories he has delivered across the board.ddressing a rally at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai
A final aspect that is very interesting – recall the BJP CMs of the last generation i.e. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje to some extent and of course Modi. All these folks were their own people – won and ruled based on own ability and performance especially when the Centre was against them most of the time. Since Modi’s arrival at Centre and Shah’s election machinery, the new generation BJP CMs have had it easy as someone else wins elections for them and they keep relying on Modi-Shah. DF is an exception, he has carved out own space, campaigns himself without calling Centre and has shown results.
The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is confident of retaining power in Maharashtra after the October 21 assembly elections. Though the Sena has repeatedly stressed in recent days that the next chief minister should be a Sainik, Devendra Fadnavis is best placed to get the job for the second time if the alliance wins – unless Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah decide to make him a minister at the Centre. Devendra Fadnavis (DF) has been the most low key but very effective Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra in the last thirty years. And I am excluding those who warmed the seat for short or long duration based on someone’s grace rather than own merit.
He headed a minority government supported by a sulking and abusive party which was the dominant partner till recently in the state of Maharashtra and which took time to come to terms with the new normal. Whatever be the provocation, we did not find DF loose with words. He kept his cool, issued very measured statements and always kept the doors open for discussions and reconciliation. He kept the opposition, the two Congresses, divided right in the middle and they could never come together to pose a challenge to him and BJP.
He managed the internal discontent, normal for any party, extremely well. Bar one incidence, no other could go out of hand. In these days of quick anti-incumbency setting in, he worked effectively with the party president, central leadership and RSS to spread his party in the hitherto unknown areas for the party. In the municipal and gram panchayat elections, his party did not rely on the central leadership and yet displayed a very impressive performance. From just another party, BJP rose to be the most dominant party across the state. The other three lost to BJP in strongholds as well as other areas. The long-term spread, which the party will achieve in the years to come, will be fantastic. It also closed doors on the four corner contests of Maharashtra. The icing on the cake was the Lok Sabha elections where NDA decimated the Congress and severely truncated NCP.
After decades of declining economic power, the state has arrested the fall and turned around. Maharashtra is again the investment destination that it was for the four and a half decades after independence. The SME/MSME sectors are humming again and turnaround is round the corner. Infrastructure is the area that received the maximum push. In 2015 Maharashtra stood for unfinished roads, poorly maintained roads (Even the road to Ajanta Ellora was in a poor state), no efforts to enhance public transport, no care for neo-urbanisation and its challenges and badly clogged approaches to airports and sea ports.
The world is different now. Unfinished roads have been/are getting completed. Road maintenance has improved though not sufficiently. Public transport has received the maximum fillip. Nagpur, Pune and Mumbai Metros are already realities and the extent of work underway is mind-boggling. The public transport underway will solve the problems of the city for decades to come. One or two tough years we shall live with. In a city like Pune the metro connectivity will ensure that people will move out of the city to new urban centres. Clearance for airport, most notably the “always hanging fire Mumbai International Airport” and de-clogging of roads to seaports will again serve the state for a very long time.
The best parts about the infrastructure development are the excellent coordination between state and the central governments and the lack of corruption – which had reached institutionalised proportions under UPA.
In the year 2015, the agriculture in the state was moribund and irrigation projects mired in major corruption scandals. Water resource management was nowhere to be seen. Drinking water crisis loomed. The hegemony of APMCs has been now destroyed. These bodies were the tools in the hands of the mighty and powerful to squeeze the farmers and loot the consumers. And there was a complete monopoly so far as APMC was concerned. Changing the law and cutting these outdated and highly corrupt organisation to size ensured that the producers and the consumers could connect directly. This also broke the back of efforts to create artificial scarcity for onions, pulses etc. This helped not only the farmers but also the consumers across the country.
(This is the first part of the edit and remaining portion will continue tomorrow)
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