Devendra to preside over Kubera’s empire
Elected leader of BJP Legislature Party
Second Brahmin and second youngest CM
First BJP CM of Maharashtra
To take oath on 31st at Wankhede stadium
Mumbai, October 29: Devendra Fadnavis, who is taking over as chief minister of Maharashtra, is perhaps the rarest of the rare politicians. Groomed by RSS and mentored by Gopinath Munde, Fadnavis was the youngest Mayor of Nagpur city. He proudly claims that his values came from RSS, the organization his father Gangadhara Rao Fadnvis served with distinction throughout his life. Fadnavis would be a young chief minister at 44 who will be tackling formidable issues confronting the state.
Fadnavis was elected leader of the Maharashtra BJP legislature party and met Governor Channamaneni Vidyasagar Rao on Tuesday and staked his claim. BJP has won 123 seats and needs 22 more for a simple majority in the house of 288. If the BJP forms a minority government, it will have time till November 15 to prove its strength in the Assembly. Although the BJP leaders have been saying that they are in talks with the Shiv Sena, the NCP which was the first to offer outside support to a BJP government, said it would abstain from voting at the time of trial of strength in the Assembly. The CM-designate will be taking the oath of office on October 31, the birth centenary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, at Wankhede stadium. He will be the first BJP chief minister of Maharashtra.
Devendra is not entirely new to politics although he formally entered political arena in early 1990s. A deshast Brahmin from Chandrapur in Vidarbha, a backward, drought-prone area, Fadnavis has politics in his blood. His aunt Shobha Fadnavis was an MLA for several terms from Mul constituency and she was also a minister. His father was a Jan Sangh member of Legislative Council. He lives in Nagpur in a small double-storied building with his mother Saritha, wife Amrita and daughter Divija. His wife works for Axis bank. He is the second Brahmin chief minister and second youngest chief minister after Sharad Pawar who became CM at the age of 38. The first Brahmin chief minister was Manohar Joshi who headed the first ever Shiv Sena-BJP government in 1996-98. Joshi who belonged to Shiv Sena later became Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Fadnavis is known to be an excellent orator. He is famous for his fiery speeches in assembly castigating the government headed by Congress-NCP coalition. He does a lot of research for his speeches on the floor of the House. He quotes former prime minister and an icon of the BJP, Atal Behari Vajpayee, a great orator and poet. Fadnavis is a voracious reader and an acknowledged authority on economic matters. When he dissects the budgets, senior ministers like Ajit Pawar and RR Patil would sit back and listen carefully.
Devendra is an LLB from Nagpur University. He did his PG in Business Management and Diploma in Methods and Techniques of Project Management from DSE, Berlin. He came up from the grassroots by dint of hard work. He was president of a municipal ward in 1989, office bearer of the BJP in Nagpur West. BJYM (youth wing of the BJP)president for Nagpur city in 1992, State Vice President of BJYM in 1994 and National Vice President of the same organization in 2001 and then president of the Maharashtra unit of BJYM since 2013. Fadnavis was member of Nagpur Municipal Corporation for two terms and also a Mayor of the city. He was the first Mayor to be reelected in the entire state. He has been a member of Legislative Assembly for four consecutive terms since 1999.
Devendra was actually picked up by Gopinath Munde, a senior leader of the BJP and a brother-in-law of Pramod Mahajan. It was at the behest of Munde that Fadnavis was made BJP state president in place of a Nitin Gadkari’s follower Sudhir Munganthiwar. Fadnavis led the party to a spectacular victory. The credit for the stupendous performance of the BJP in Maharashtra state elections recently goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah and BJP state president Devendra Fadnavis in that order. A protégé of Munde, Devendra is going to be the chief minister although the very own daughter of the departed leader, Pankaja Munde, also was in news for being in the race for the post of chief minister. Pankaja Munde, daughter of a Brahmin mother (Pramod’s sister) and an OBC father, has been saying all along that although she would like to occupy the chair which her father would have easily occupied had he been alive, she was not very particular about the coveted post. She might join Fadnavis’ cabinet as an important member.
There are groups in Maharashtra unit of the BJP. There were rumours that Nitin Gadkari, who is also close to RSS leadership and became the national president of the BJP from which post he had to step down due to some allegations of corruption, was trying to be the chief minister. He exhibited his clout when he paraded about 25 MLAs from Vidarbha. But sensing the mood in the party and the RSS, he quietly withdrew from the glare of publicity and the contest. He and Fadnavis met several times and sorted out problems that may appear as differences. The greatest virtue of the young leader has been that he is above the group politics and he does not belong to any of the groups. He has been loyal to the RSS and the BJP.
A separate Vidarbha campaigner
Devendra Fadnavis also campaigned vigorously for a separate state of Vidarbha. Naturally the passion for a separate state would ebb since he is the CM now. His supporters are basically his comrades in the protest marches. They have been protesting against price rise, power shortage, corruption, a la Adarsh scam, and criminalization of society. He has been particularly active in championing the cause of farmers who were committing suicide in large numbers since late 1990s. The irresponsibility, infighting, scams galore and hubris made the Congress a vulnerable rival and the selection of Naredra Modi as BJP prime ministerial candidate made all the difference and sealed the fate of the Congress party. Fadnavis and his friends who were not dreaming of coming to power till recently were catapulted into the office in a rather miraculous manner. While the BJP was accusing the Congress and the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress leaders were using the same language to make allegations against the NCP, the NCP in turn used to castigate the Congress leaders for scams. This attitude of scoring self-goals indulged by the partners in office helped the BJP a great deal in convincing the voters that the ruling coalition has to be defeated at any cost. The recalcitrant ways of Uddhav Thakre also forced the BJP to go it alone and reap the fruits. All the developments within the BJP and outside helped the young and dynamic Fadnvis to preside over the finance capital of the country. Thus Devendra is sitting in the chair of Kubera for a change.
There are at least two challenges that Fadnvis has to meet squarely. The first is the land mafia and the second is to govern the huge state without giving scope to corruption. The 15-year rule of the Congress-NCP coalition has made governance a mockery and the corruption was ruling the roost. It is easy to impress the people since Fadnavis is a new face who brings fresh breeze with him. But to sustain the quality of governance is going to be a big challenge before the young chief minister. Let us wish him best of luck.