A political novice in the corridors of power, Devendra Fadnavis, 44, has started his innings as the chief minister on a promising note, but he will have to tackle political adversaries inside and outside the party and the government to make the first-ever BJP government a success.
With strong support of both his bosses—Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah—Fadnavis has had a smooth ride in the first 100 days in office. His handling of the government, too, has been appreciated so far. However, there is no guarantee it will remain smooth throughout the five-year tenure.
Apart from handling the high expectation and the tough financial situation, Fadnavis will have to battle a mercurial ally like the Shiv Sena and a whole bunch of senior ministers from the party, who are unhappy with being denied the top job. Over the past few days, a cold war is on between Fadnavis and revenue minister Eknath Khadse, over what the latter alleges as CM’s interference in his department.
The Sena leadership is sulking over the raw deal and expectedly, Sena ministers like Ramdas Kadam have been periodically targeting Fadnavis publicly. The CM and his close aides are expecting a flash-point with Sena in less than two years, when the city civic body goes to polls in early 2017. It is not yet clear whether the two parties will contest the polls in an alliance or will be rivals, even as they run the state government together. Political analysts say it will be a test of Fadnavis’ leadership skills.
Experts feel, for now, Fadnavis needs to concentrate on his work, fulfill his promises, which will leave no space for comments from enemies. “In the past 100 days, Fadnavis is talking of the right things and is taking a stand on issues such as growth, development, and focus on Mumbai. He needs to get his act together to keep people within the party and the Sena quiet,” said political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar.
The Sena, meanwhile, is not in a position to bargain, but it can be of great nuisance value.
“He needs to put all his political acumen to use and show them who the boss is. How he performs in the next two years, and what he brings for people in Mumbai in the run-up to the crucial BMC elections will help him take important decisions,” said political expert Surendra Jondhale.
The Opposition —Congress and NCP — are smarting from their defeat and gearing up for the political battle. In the coming days, Fadnavis will have to get ready to counter them as well.