Mumbai: Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, who is regarded as the blue-eyed boy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is currently flush with victory. Not only has he outsmarted stalwarts of the Maha Vikas Aghadi such as Sharad Pawar, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Balasaheb Thorat but also tightened his grip over the BJP in Maharashtra, as three of his party’s nominees emerged triumphant in the keenly fought election to the six seats of the Rajya Sabha. He has emerged the ‘man of the match’, stumping his rivals with his powerful knock.
Fadnavis hooked all the bouncers bowled at him, hitting out, instead of being hit, exploiting to the fullest the internal contradictions and growing tension among the MVA partners, Independents and smaller parties and thereby mobilizing necessary votes for the victory of the BJP’s third nominee, Dhananjay Mahadik.
Like his mentor PM Modi, the former CM is a 24x7 politician, who crafted the party’s winning strategy and worked on it by taking senior leaders and legislators into confidence. Unfazed by his second bout with Covid, Fadnavis fine-tuned the party’s strategy by participating in online meetings and assigning responsibilities only to a trusted few.
Despite the lack of numbers, Fadnavis prepped the party for an historic win in the Rajya Sabha election on the strength of his political acumen, military-like precision planning and capitalizing on his links with smaller parties and Independents with the certainty that it was they who would help the BJP’s third nominee win. With its 106 legislators and the support of 7 Independents and smaller parties, the party was also backed by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, in addition to at least nine Independents and legislators of smaller parties from the MVA camp.
From Day 1 of the run-up to the RS elections, Fadnavis was sure of shoring up the winning numbers and confidently turned down the MVA’s request for the withdrawal of the third BJP nominee for an unopposed RS election. In exchange, the MVA had offered the BJP the chance to contest five seats in the upcoming state council election. His reaction after the victory was self-explanatory: “Elections are contested not just for the fight, but victory. Jai Maharashtra.”
Even though he has yet to come to terms with the loss of power after the 2019 elections, after the break-up of the 80-hour alliance between the BJP and Ajit Pawar, he transitioned into the role of the leader of the opposition and has continued his tirade against the three-party alliance government.
Despite the constant ridicule and sarcasm he has faced from his party’s estranged ally Shiv Sena, Fadnavis has focussed on keeping his party flock together and consolidating his position as a doer and kingmaker. Be it the Anil Deshmukh episode or Nawab Malik’s alleged links with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim, Fadnavis has been at the forefront in exposing the MVA and its contradictions. Although the BJP lost the Kolhapur and Deglur byelections, he has not spared any opportunity to corner the MVA.
As he has said, the BJP’s victory run has begun and it will continue in the coming state council elections on June 20, as well as in the ensuing civic and local body elections including those to the BMC, and later, to the Lok Sabha and assembly. Fadnavis is all set to work on new permutations and combinations for keeping the BJP ahead of its rivals and to ultimately regain power in Maharashtra.