Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis continues to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blue-eyed boy. If that’s not enough, he also enjoys an excellent rapport with other senior BJP leaders. Despite the BJP winning 105 seats in Maharashtra, it could not retain power after the Shiv Sena defected and joined hands with the NCP-Congress combine to form the MVA.
Yet, Fadnavis, who celebrates his birthday today, tried to get his fellow birthday boy Ajit Pawar to join his alliance and nearly succeeded for four days before the junior Pawar realised that the grass was greener for him in the MVA.
Despite the loss, the BJP high-command kept faith in Fadnavis and made him Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
Fadnavis recently in an interview admitted that he could not believe that he was not in power. Even though he had taken oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister, it was not sufficient to remain in power. Yet, Fadnavis remains an undisputed leader in the party despite outbursts from party veteran Eknath Khadse and former minister Pankaja Munde.
During his tenure CM, Fadnavis not only silenced his competitors within the party but checkmated traditional political rivals Congress and NCP. Although Shiv Sena, after initial refusal, joined the government, it had no voice as Fadnavis was the boss and he had his say in government functioning.
Initially, Fadnavis was attacked by opposition for lack of administrative experience and skill to head the alliance government. However, he not only tightened his hold on the administration but made opposition do mere reaction based politics.
Further, despite being attacked for coming from the Brahmin community, Fadnavis reached out to practically every caste and community and won over their confidence. Even though his government failed to keep the poll promise of providing reservation to the Dhangar community, he gave them a slew of incentives. Similarly, he softly handled the agitation for Maratha reservation. It was to his credit that the government passed the legislation on providing quota for the Maratha community which was subsequently upheld by the Bombay High Court.
Fadnavis set a record of sorts of completing five year tenure as the CM after former Chief Minister Vasantrao Naik who had held the CM’s post for more than 11 years. Under his leadership, BJP won maximum seats in the civic and local body elections and thereby spread its wings across the state by capturing the bastions of Congress and NCP.
Fadnavis has started his new innings as the leader of opposition not with a big bang but at a low key. Having command over administrative and legislative matters, he is firing salvos against Maha Vikas Aghadi government reiterating that it will fall under its own weight. He also clarifies that BJP won’t topple the government. He is keeping cool notwithstanding being trolled on social media.
Eyebrows were raised after his meetings with PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah last week in Delhi. Although he clarified it was on seeking a package for the sugar sector in Maharashtra, there is a buzz that he had received tips for carrying out Operation Lotus in Maharashtra. Few BJP leaders are saying with confidence that the BJP led government will assume power after October.
Fadnavis’ timing for visting PM Modi and Home Minister Shah was crucial, as it clashed around the time the Congress had removed Sachin Pilot and other rebel legislators for allegedly cosying up with the BJP for toppling the government in Rajasthan. The time will tell whether Fadnavis stages a comeback by luring ones again the NCP leader Ajit Pawar or some disgruntled legislators from the Shiv Sena and the