Today, Maharashtra’s first-ever government led by the BJP completes two years in office. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis can certainly lay claim to having shaken off the torpor and policy paralysis that marked the last years of the preceding Congress-NCP regime – in tackling drought, fast-tracking key infrastructure projects, and inviting investment to the state. Mr Fadnavis, 46, one of the youngest chief ministers of Maharashtra, has personally promoted his flagship Jalyukta Shivar Yojna aimed at water conservation in villages; a super expressway linking Mumbai and his hometown Nagpur that he hopes will spur development all along the route; and his latest initiative to encourage digital learning in schools.
However, the BJP-led government has had its fair share of controversies. Senior party leader Eknath Khadse had to step down from the ministry following allegations of wrongdoing. Charges of corruption or impropriety have been levelled against some other ministers too. They survive for now. But, it’s up to Mr Fadnavis to ensure his ministers do not choose personal interest over public good or run the risk of being likened to the government he replaced.
However, it’s not just about corruption. One of Mr Fadnavis’ biggest headaches has been relations with the Shiv Sena. Their longstanding alliance fell apart just before the 2014 elections, which the two parties contested separately. Their post-poll patch-up, after the BJP fell 23 short of a majority in the Maharashtra assembly, has been marked by acrimony and sniping that have only increased as elections to Mumbai’s civic body near.
The BJP has made no secret of the fact that it would like to capture this Sena stronghold. Another problem area for Mr Fadnavis has been the perception that fringe elements have had a freer run in the last two years.
This view has only gained ground with the latest controversy over Karan Johar’s movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, when Mr Fadnavis brokered a deal between the filmmaker and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who had threatened to block its release because the film had Pakistani actors.
Mr Fadnavis will not only have to ensure rule of law prevails but be seen to be doing so.