On September 21st, Devendra Fadnavis completed 1421 days in office to become the longest-serving non-Congress chief minister of the state a record which was previously held by Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi who was in office for 1420 days.
However, the big question which is being asked whether he will help the party to get maximum seats in the state in Lok Sabha and bring it back to power in assembly elections?
Immediately after the death of former senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde in June 2014, Fadnavis was sounded out by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah duo to be ready to take a big responsibility who was state unit president at that time.
To his credit, despite clear indication from party high command he is being the next chief minister of the state, Fadnavis maintained a low profile and did not respond to his party colleague like rural development minister Pankaja Munde who openly talked about her chief ministerial ambitions.
Responding to journalists questions he always maintained as party president his job is to ensure party’s win in the assembly election and only elected representatives and party high command will decide who the next chief minister will be.
Despite being novice compared to union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, former revenue minister Eknath Khadse, education minister Vinod Tawade, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and not having family lineage like Pankaja Munde, finally on October 28 he was elected as BJP legislative party’s leader.
Political analyst Prakash Akolkar said, “The BJP had played a big gamble by choosing person like Fadnavis as chief minister as he did not have a single day experience of being in office. Besides this his caste was also major factor which weighed against him. The BJP at nationally and especially in Maharashtra taken efforts to shred its image of Brahmin-Baniya party by promoting OBC leadership.”
However, so far this gamble seems to have paid off as he has managed to give his party a big win in local self-government institutions and deepen the party’s roots. The BJP is not in power in 13 municipal corporations on its own and in two more in alliance with Sena out of total 27. Beside this, the party is in power 14 Zilla Parishad out of total 34.
The two major crisis Fadnavis faced in his tenure government faced were agitation over Maratha reservation and agrarian unrest. He handled both crisis deftly which looked like threatening his political career.
Though major demand of Maratha community of reservation in government jobs and educational institutions is yet to be met, Fadnavis tried to cool down tempers with announcing a number of sops for students and entrepreneurs from Maratha community.
Though initially, Fadnavis was reluctant to give loan waiver, the enormity of farmers agitation forced him to announce loan waiver of Rs. 34,000 crore.
One of the most significant achievements of Fadnavis is on the front of urban infrastructure, a number of projects of Mumbai which were only on drawing board for years together actually saw implementation on the ground. This included work on four metro lines of the city, work on Sewari-Nava Sheva Mumbai Trans Harbour Link started. The work on projects like Bandra-Varsova Sea link is also expected to start after the monsoon.
The Nagpur Metro is doing its test run and in Pune work on Metro corridor is in full swing.
Another flagship program of the Fadnavis government has been Jalyukta Shivar a water conservation program, this reduces, state dependence on water tanker from more than 6,000 to 600 because of increasing availability of water in rural areas.
Prakash Pawar, professor of political science at Kolhapur’s Shivaji University said, “The change of power in 2014 in the state was real change in the power because all the rulers before that by and largely followed framework of governance laid down by first chief minister of the state Y B Chavan even 1995-1999 Sena-BJP government did not break this status quo.
However, this BJP led government did that and it was expected such change will invite black clash and it indeed did but Fadnavis managed all the crisis faced by his government well and emerged on the top and he is BJP’s best bet in the state to retain the power.”