Maharashtra fallout: Fadnavis’s skill, shrewdness back in spotlight amid crisis

Updated on Jun 22, 2022 08:23 AM IST

Two-and-half years ago, Devendra Fadnavis, then the chief minister of Maharashtra famously said Mee Punha Yein (I shall return) on the last day of the final session of his government. The phrase ended up being his campaign slogan as well.

BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis along with BJP party MLAs celebrate after winning all 5 seat in MLC election at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Monday. (HT photo)
BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis along with BJP party MLAs celebrate after winning all 5 seat in MLC election at Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Monday. (HT photo)
By, Mumbai

Two-and-half years ago, Devendra Fadnavis, then the chief minister of Maharashtra famously said Mee Punha Yein (I shall return) on the last day of the final session of his government. The phrase ended up being his campaign slogan as well.

But, much to his embarrassment he did not return -- and his rivals used the same phrase to mock him.

Now, with the state’s ruling MVA alliance in the midst of a crisis, one from which the Bharatiya Janata Party and Fadnavis himself could likely benefit, the former chief minister’s stock is on the rise again.

The crisis comes two weeks after the BJP managed to win an extra Rajya Sabha seat in the state, and soon after it sprung a similar surprise in the legislative council election.

After an abortive, and much-ridiculed attempt to become chief minister after the 2019 election -- he managed to get the governor to swear him in -- Fadnavis is clearly back. And while much of the crisis in Maharashtra may have to do with Sena minister Eknath Shinde and his disgruntlement, Fadnavis’ supporters emphasise that the former CM had a role to play, and that, should push come to shove and the government fall, he will likely be the next chief minister of the state.

“He was in touch with the disgruntled group of Sena MLAs under Shinde and grabbed the opportunity triggered by the rift that widened during the Rajya Sabha and council polls over the past 10 days,” said a senior state BJP leader who asked not to be named. This person added that Fadnavis and others had spoken of a “political tremor” soon after the legislative council elections.

Other BJP functionaries were at pains to point out that Fadnavis and Shinde had a cordial relationship. After the BJP decided to contest the 2014 assembly elections alone, and formed the government as the single largest party -- the Sena chose to sit in opposition -- Shinde was the leader of the opposition. But the party soon joined the government, with Shinde believed to have played a role in convincing Uddhav Thackeray. “Shinde was among a select few of Sena leaders who were never targeted by the BJP and in turn, Shinde restrained from any attack on the BJP,” one of the functionaries added.

The first BJP leader added that Fadnavis never stopped targeting the MVA government, admitting that while the former CM came under fire from even detractors within his own party for what they saw as his desperation to return as chief minister, he (Fadnavis) won people over with his persistence, and ability to make things happen. “The victories -- a third Rajya Sabha seat and a fifth legislative council seat, in excess of the party’s numbers -- were attributed to Fadnavis’ skill and shrewdness,” this person said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Surendra P Gangan is Senior Assistant Editor with political bureau of Hindustan Times’ Mumbai Edition. He covers state politics and Maharashtra government’s administrative stories. Reports on the developments in finances, agriculture, social sectors among others.

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