How CM Fadnavis Became the Undisputed Leader of Maharashtra

How has Devendra Fadnavis become the undisputed leader of what was the ‘most-Congress’ state in India?

Published16 Oct 2019, 08:00 PM IST
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In 2014, when Devendra Fadnavis was asked if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will make him the Maharashtra chief minister, he said the ‘high-command’ will decide. However, five years later, his election pitch has been that he will return as the chief minister.

How has Fadnavis become the undisputed leader of what was the ‘most-Congress’ state in India?

Speaking to BloombergQuint, senior journalist Anosh Malekar said that the biggest strength of Fadnavis was his “clean image” and the ability deal with challenges intelligently.

“Fadnavis has proved to be a very smart and intelligent chief minister. He does not take on somebody in public. He has worked the backrooms to deal with it. This has helped him keep a clean image and deal successfully with all the challenges that come his way.” 
Anosh Malekar

Malekar added that Fadnavis managed to “outsmart” the Big Brother of Maharashtra – Shiv Sena – while keeping the party chief Uddhav Thackerat in “good humor.”

Nistula Hebbar, Political Editor of The Hindu, elaborated how Fadnavis had to work to consolidate his position as a strongman even within the Maharashtra BJP unit.

“He is a Brahmin chief minister in a Maratha dominated state and the only one to complete a full term after Vasant Naik. While the senior leaders have gotten into controversies, he has managed to create a ‘bigger leader’ than them image.”
Nistula Hebbar

She added that the way Fadnavis handled the Maratha reservation issue and farmers’ distress “as well as he could.” This gave the party high command that he had what it takes for then to be voted back into power, Hebbar said.

No Separate State Demand for Vidarbha Now?

When asked if the domination of Fadnavis in the state politics have put the demand for Vidarbha region to be a separate state in the backseat, Malekar said:

“It looks like that. When I was in Nagpur, this was discussed everywhere. Everyone feels that the issue of separate state for Vidharbha has to take backseat till Fadnavis is the CM. Fadnavis has said that he is the leader of Maharastra, so the question of asking for a separate state does not arise.”
Anosh Malekar

In response to whether the Union Cabinet will see a shuffle following the Maharashtra and Haryana polls, Hebbar said that many leaders are already positioning themselves for a role in Delhi.

“There will be reshuffles going forward. Senior leaders are positioning themselves for a role in Delhi. Political chess moves are very interesting to watch. The outcome of this election may or may not be foreseen but the long-term political implications are very interesting.”
Nistula Hebbar

Maharashtra goes to polls on 21 October.

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