As expected, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has chosen state unit president Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister of Maharashtra.
That Fadnavis would be the choice for the CM’s post became clear to many after Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised him in his Nagpur campaign rally.
In past few days, various options were being discussed in reference to caste equations in the state and the fractured mandate. However, breaking away from the tradition in Maharashtra and ignoring claims that politically influential communities such as Marathas and OBCs should be considered for the top job, the BJP leadership chose Fadnavis, a Brahmin, to head its government.
The decision has a stamp of PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, who made a similar choice in Haryana when they picked Manohar Lal Khattar, a Punjabi, as the chief minister.
In the past two decades, the chief minister’s post in Maharashtra was largely with the politically-dominant Maratha community.
After coming to power in 1995, the Shiv Sena chose Manohar Joshi, a Brahmin for the CM’s job. However, after the defeat in the 1998 Lok Sabha polls, he was replaced with Narayan Rane, a Maratha.
But the move did not have the desired effect and the saffron combine lost the 1999 Assembly elections, despite a split in the Congress.
Between 1999 and 2010, the Congress-NCP government saw four chief ministers — Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan. Except Shinde, the other three were Marathas.
On the other hand, the other backward classes (OBC) are considered politically strong and have often supported the BJP and Sena.
So why did the BJP narrow down on Fadnavis, who did not fit the traditional criteria?
“Modi has been building a team of young leaders and choosing Fadnavis could be a part of that formation. The PM chose him because he has a clean image and has not been involved in coterie politics. What Modi is also looking for is unstinted loyalty to him [Modi],” said political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar.
Modi has a certain way of functioning and he wants to ensure that the person he picks as CM will be on the same page as him, Kumar added.
BJP leaders also insisted that Modi preferred qualities such as loyalty to him and efficiency, which matter more while running a government. RSS’ blessing came as an added advantage for Fadnavis.
Now, it depends on Fadnavis to make Modi’s experiment a success. The expectations of the people are high and the performance of the new government will need to live up to them.