Maharashtra: DCM Devendra Fadnavis Gears Up To Lead BJP Charge In Assembly Elections

Maharashtra: DCM Devendra Fadnavis Gears Up To Lead BJP Charge In Assembly Elections

The Central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has finally recognised the indispensability of Maharashtra's deputy chief minister and senior party leader Devendra Fadnavis.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Thursday, June 20, 2024, 09:53 PM IST
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Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis | PTI

Mumbai: The Central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has finally recognised the indispensability of Maharashtra's deputy chief minister and senior party leader Devendra Fadnavis (53). Soon after the pathetic performance of the party in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections (it won only nine out of the 28 seats it had contested despite the highest vote share of 26.18 %), Fadnavis made an uber smart move before the knives were out.

He announced his resignation from the government and for good measure declared that he would like to do organisational work. This completely pre-empted any move which the party's head honchos, PM Modi and Amit Shah, may have contemplated against him. The below par performance of the BJP in Maharashtra, which has 48 LS seats, was one of the key reasons why the party could not secure a majority on its own in Parliament. Incidentally, the party bagged only 105 of the 288 seats which was less than the 122 seats secured by it in the 2014 polls.

However, Brand Devendra Fadnavis got strength with the deputy CM splitting the Shiv Sena and pulling down the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government helmed by Uddhav Thackeray. The operation was masterminded by Fadnavis in such a secret and consummate manner that Thackeray had no clue till the end that the carpet was being pulled from under his feet.

Fadnavis repeated the operation by splitting the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) as well much to the anger of its president Sharad Pawar who was till then regarded as the invincible Chanakya of Maharashtra politics. The splitting of two major parties earned Fadnavis the sobriquet "Fodnavis" (a man who breaks).

But, despite all the hard work he put in to overthrow the MVA government and instal the Maha Yuti government led by the BJP, Fadnavis found that the party bosses in Delhi were in no mood to oblige him. They overlooked his legitimate claim over the CM's chair and pitchforked Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde as the CM. Fadnavis was furious and declared in front of television cameras that he would not join the Shinde government. But a barely concealed warning from party president JP Nadda did the trick.

The BJP national leadership's problem is that it does not have an alternative to Fadnavis in Maharashtra and in any case action against him when the assembly elections are round the corner would be nothing less than political harakiri. Those who could have challenged his leadership from within the BJP are nowhere in the areana. Vinod Tawde, former minister, has been posted in Delhi at the organisational level.

Eknath Khadse was so cornered with a corruption case that he defected to the NCP (and now is trying to do ghar wapsi without much success.) Pankaja Munde could have posed a serious threat, but she was defeated in the recent LS polls in Beed. Senior minister Chandrakant Patil, who is reportedly known for his proximity to Amit Shah, was earlier regarded as an alternative to Fadnavis, but not anymore. He is no patch on Fadnavis by any reckoning.

So now it is Fadnavis who will lead the Maha Yuti to the assembly polls. Sources in the BJP said that if he is to deliver effectively, then he should be made the CM again. At present, he has to depend on the two deputy CMs to get things done. May be this time around he may be more assertive and not give too much weightage to the coalition dharma and all that. He has to show results in the assembly polls. Else, his political career may suffer a body blow.

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