Devendra Fadnavis, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and BJPs talisman in the state has been gearing for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) polls, scheduled to be held early next year in February. Termed the richest civic body in Asia, BMC’s budget is even bigger than some of the smaller states like Goa and Sikkim. And Fadnavis has a point to prove after the previous assembly election betrayal.
It was under Fadnavis that BJP increased its tally in BMC from a measly 31 to 81 in the 2017 elections. However, those close to the matter and the preparations knew that Fadnavis had drilled his troops so efficiently that anything less than 80 would have been a defeat.
The BJP made decisive gains by retaining power in at least six civic bodies — Pune, Nashik, Ulhasnagar, Akola, Nagpur, and Amravati — out of the 10 corporations for which the elections were held.
If Shiv Sena was allowed to run away with the BMC, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), which is still kept in check by Fadnavis, would have created utter chaos in the state.
The coffers of most of the politicians in Maharashtra are filled by the contractors and BMC is at the heart of the operation. Fadnavis meanwhile has kept a tight vigil on the operations.
Moreover, the same year, BJP made rapid strides in the rural setup of the state by sweeping the Gram Panchayat elections. The outcome of the results assumed significance as supposed poll analysts in political circles believed that BJP would be sidelined in the rural polls.
Out of the 3,884 gram panchayats that went to the polls BJP won 1,457, followed by Congress (301), Shiv Sena (222), and NCP (194).
After Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, if there is a state cadre leader who commands unbridled respect and fear in his state, it has to be Fadnavis. The BJP leader is one of the most street-smart leaders in the circuit and has shown his tactical brilliance umpteenth times.
Coming through the ranks as a young leader, it was not easy to break the glass ceiling, but Fadnavis did and in fact, he shattered the glass ceiling. He was born and raised in Nagpur, home of the headquarters of the RSS. His father Gangadhar Fadnavis was associated with the RSS and, hence, young Devendra was influenced by the RSS ideology.
In the infancy of his career, Fadnavis was elected a member in the Nagpur Municipal Corporation for two consecutive terms — in 1992 and 1997. He was also the youngest mayor of Nagpur and the second youngest mayor in India.
Fadnavis managed to go toe to toe with NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar in his ‘Marathwada’ backyard and emerged victorious — paving way for his future triumphs.
Read More: Devendra Fadnavis reveals the secret formula of his administration’s success
Willing to make the tough calls:
Fadnavis, as a leader, has managed to help BJP get rid of the deadweight politicians as well. He was the brain and brawn behind the eventual ejection of the corrupt Eknath Khadse.
Ever since Khadse was overlooked for Maharashtra’s top job in 2014, he had gone rogue and orchestrated sabotaging activities within the party.
Owing to the BJP’s policy of zero tolerance for corruption, Khadse along with a host of senior leaders like Vinod Tawde were denied a ticket to contest the 2019 Maharashtra election, with the former quitting the party and joining Congress, where truth be told, he rightfully belongs.
Read More: Eknath Khadse was rendered jobless by Devendra Fadnavis in 2014 itself, his resignation process took 6 years
Keeping Gadkari in his corner:
Vidarbha, a region of eastern Maharashtra, which had for long been on the back seat of Maharashtra’s political agenda saw the rise of Nitin Gadkari. He changed the assessment of the region completely and emerged as the biggest workhorse BJP has ever produced.
And if any BJP politician needs to ply his trade in the state, they need the backing of Gadkari, who akin to Fadnavis is an extremely shrewd and an astute politician. Fadnavis not only joined forces with him but worked cohesively alongside him, forging an efficient working relationship.
Planning for any eventuality:
Fadnavis is one of the rare breeds of politicians that want to be prepared for any eventuality. The BJP leader does not leave his political future in limbo.
Talking about the formula behind the success of his administration, Fadnavis had famously remarked, “For every major challenge, a war room was created with domain experts and stakeholders. Challenges are always there but I have not run away from any single challenge, I have faced every challenge. When you forthcomingly face them, you’ll find a solution,”
The second component of his success formulae is Dialogue. Engagement with the different stakeholders has been a key aspect of Devendra Fadnavis’ ethos when playing on the political turf.
This trait was clearly evident during the Maratha agitation in the state in 2018. During the agitation, not a single incident of violence was reported.
The farmer agitation and the Maratha quota protest:
The farmer agitation in the state was also dealt with in a similar fashion, where comprehensive dialogues with the stakeholders led to effective resolution and diffuse of the situation.
“Not a single firing, not a single Lathi-charge, earlier in every agitation there would be a lathi charge or a firing; here it was only a dialogue,” he said triumphantly after the farmer agitation ended.
Compare the Maratha farmer agitation to the one that transpired on the borders of the capital city for the last year and one may realize the importance of effective state leadership.
Similarly, the Maratha quota agitation threatened the survival of his government, but Fadnavis reached out to the protesters and announced the setting up of the State Backward Class Commission to get the demand for reservation in jobs and education ratified and enacted legislation.
As a direct consequence of his administration, in the 2019 assembly elections, BJP, which contested 164 seats managed to bag 105 and emerge as the single largest party, while the Shiv Sena won 56 in the 288-strong Assembly.
The only blip in his career so far has been miscalculating the Shiv Sena betrayal. However, that perhaps could also be attributed to the high command’s insistence, in the run-up to the elections to carry on with a toxic relationship despite the state leaders suggesting otherwise.
Devendra Fadnavis is a leader whose dedication to the party and public remains unchanged with his position of power, whether it be in the ruling government, or in the opposition. To put up a spirited fight from the opposition indeed takes effort, and rest assured, the BJP will benefit due to the same in the next elections.