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Devendra Fadnavis Maharashtra's new CM

Fadnavis' remarkable performance in opposition benches of the assembly in the past 15 years won him national and international accolades. The 44-year-old baby-faced leader has managed to stay out of controversies.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2014 01:42 IST
Dharmendra Jore
Dharmendra Jore
Hindustan Times
Devendra Gangadharrao Fadnavis,maharashtra assembly,BJP

When Gangadharrao Fadnavis felt the need for expanding the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) presence in Jhingabai Takli, a village near Nagpur, he came up with a unique idea. He set up a paan (betel) shop, and as customers started to trickle in, he explained to them the party’s ideology.

The village has had a BJP sarpanch for several years now.

The legacy of Gangadharrao, who passed away in 1987, is now being carried forward by his younger son, Devendra Fadnavis, who is the BJP’s top pick for the post of Maharashtra chief minister.

After his the death of his father, who was the MLC of Graduates Constituency, Fadnavis, 18 at the time, told his mother Sarita he would make politics his career.

He completed law studies from Nagpur University and was an active member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (BJP’s student wing, which he led at the state-level).

He won his first election as a civic corporator at the age of 22.

Politics, however, did not stop him from further studies. He did his Masters in project management from a German institute.

Read: Fadnavis selected Maharashtra CM, says will lead people's govt

“My son contested the municipal elections when he was writing his law exam. He won a gold medal in his Hindu law paper, and also got elected from our civic ward,” Sarita had told HT during an interview a few years ago.

Fadnavis went on to became Nagpur’s mayor (second youngest in the country then), and in 1997, he headed the state’s first mayor-in-council, similar to the state’s council of ministers, to run the local government.

The 44-year-old baby-faced leader managed to stay out of controversies even as his following as a mass leader grew.

His remarkable performance in opposition benches of the assembly in the past 15 years won him national and international accolades. He won the best parliamentarian award from the Commonwealth Parliamentarian Association. His experience as a college-level debater came handy in cornering several ministers.

He was a thorn in the ruling camp’s side, especially in his last two terms, when he accused Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress leaders of corruption and irregularities.

“I always had a goal in my mind: remove the Congress and NCP from the state. And with Narendrabhai Modi’s firepower and strong leadership we could do it very successfully,” Fadnavis told HT after the assembly election results were announced.

“My party wants to take up the challenge of taking Maharashtra ahead in all sectors, because the Congress and NCP reduced this prime state to a non-entity.”

A separate Vidarbha proponent

Fadnavis, the state BJP president, notched up a landslide win in Nagpur (south-west) constituency. His victory coupled with major gains in Vidarbha pressed home his credentials for the CM post.

His leadership of the party in this crucial election got a pat from none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi had described him as a “national asset” at a public meeting in Nagpur in the run-up to the elections. “I am obliged to the people of Nagpur for giving Maharashtra and the nation a brilliant and committed leader like Devendra Fadnavis,” Modi had said.

Not surprisingly, all campaign vehicles of the party in the state had the images of Modi and Fadnavis.

A protagonist of separate Vidarbha, Fadnavis had an edge in the constituency from beginning for his pro-statehood stand and functioning as an alert peoples’ representative.

When Modi assured the public in a meeting that no one could divide Maharashtra, Fadnavis took an opposite stand on the same issue, saying that the BJP was firm on its stand of a separate Vidarbha state. This worked like magic for the party in the region.

This is the fourth time Fadnavis has been elected to the state assembly.

Watch:Who is Devendra Fadnavis

First Published: Oct 28, 2014 16:06 IST