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BJP will remain the number one party, says Maharashtra CM Fadnavis

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Hindustan Times on Friday on his equation with ally Shiv Sena, his party’s prospects in the polls,

mumbai Updated: Oct 27, 2018 00:29 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,Mumbai,BJP
CM Devendra Fadnavis.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Days ahead of completing four years in power on October 31, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Hindustan Times on Friday on his equation with ally Shiv Sena, his party’s prospects in the polls, Ram Mandir and his government’s performance. Excerpts:

Have you delivered on the promises made after you took over the reins of the state in 2014?

We had not issued a manifesto, but I had unveiled a vision document for the government after I took over. I think I have delivered 100 per cent on this vision. I don’t say that everything I had promised is delivered or achieved, but all policies, schemes and projects have been initiated and are in various stages of completion.

Will your party have an alliance with the Shiv Sena and will both the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls be held simultaneously?

No [the polls will not be held together]. We want to try and have an alliance with the Sena for both the Lok Sabha as well as Vidhan Sabha polls. If the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) come together, we will have to come together or both of us can suffer. Political reality will ensure an alliance. If Mulayam Singh and Mayawati can come together, why can’t we? We have been allies for 25 years. If we have an alliance, we will win polls easily, if not, we will have to struggle a bit to win. We are prepared.The BJP is and will be the number one party.

The Sena has been with you in the government for four years and continues to be your most bitter critic. Of late, Sena chief Thackeray has been focusing on a hardline Hindutva narrative and is planning to go to Ayodhya. Comment.

I don’t think this dual position [of the Sena] will be beneficial. It will not be advantageous, and can lead to losses. Thackeray’s Hindutva narrative only means that we will get closer and alliance will happen in the larger interest of our ideology, just like how the so-called secular forces have come together. After all, Hindutva plank will not endear the Sena to our political opponents.

To get Sena on board as an ally, is the BJP willing to consider a split in CM’s tenure for both the parties if the alliance comes to power in 2019?

They have not asked us for this. I don’t think they will. If they do, we’ll discuss it.

One perception that has stayed with your government for the past four years is that it is largely a “one-man show”. It is said that your colleagues lack adequate talent and experience.

I don’t think running a government can be a one-man show. It is a team effort. You need strong leadership, but also team work. I am perhaps more in the limelight because I am the CM. But everyone in my team is working. Some are working very well, some may not be doing as well. Some senior ministers get more attention and others don’t get any attention.

At a recent address you said that you would be the CM in 2019 as well. Was that a hint to other CM aspirants in your party?

Are there any aspirants remaining? (laughs). No, my address was not a hint to anyone in my party or even my ally. It was meant for the Congress-NCP that has been talking of trying to dislodge our government.

Are you close to leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (seen as a friend) or Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray? Both criticise your government.

I am close to and prefer Uddhav Thackeray. Vikhe-Patil’s criticism is with a bid to destabilise us and remove us from power. I see Thackeray’s criticism more as a critical commentary.

Are you likely to induct leaders from other parties, specifically the Congress-NCP in your party ahead of the polls?

Yes, several leaders from the Congress-NCP are in touch with us. Any decision on inducting them or giving them tickets will be based on elective merit.

There were reports of an internal survey of MPs and MLAs carried out by you, in which several of your party colleagues performed poorly. Comment.

I had given survey reports on performance of MPs and MLAs and overall perception of our party recently, but the media reports on the outcome of this survey were completely wrong. I won’t go into the details, but, for instance, some reports said that MP Subhash Bhamre had performed poorly. This is farthest from the truth. He was among the top five performing MPs in the state. The survey results suggest good tidings for us in the polls. It has established that we are the number one party in the state. For instance one finding was that in Mumbai, PM Narendra Modi is more popular than he was in 2014.

What is your view on the Ram Mandir issue?

I believe the temple must be built, it is after all the aspiration of crores of Indians. There are two ways to achieve that, through judiciary or a new law. For a law, we don’t have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, so we will have to bring all parties on one platform. I think we will get a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court, going by the High Court judgment. This does not mean we are against masjids. If someone is trying to break a masjid, I will save it. But this is a different case as originally a temple existed here and that has been proven.

What is your take on the #MeToo movement where several women in media, film industry, advertising have complained of harassment at workplace and outed senior colleagues and people in power?

I don’t want to speak specifically about the #MeToo movement. As far as harassment at workplace goes, we have very clear guidelines and laws for it. If anyone is found guilty, he must not be spared. At the same time, I feel this should not be misused. Due diligence must be followed.

Will the cabinet expansion take place soon?

I want to go in for a cabinet expansion. It should happen before the session of the state Assembly. There is no controversy in this case. It has been decided which ministers (a few) will be dropped and who will be inducted.

There is some talk about how your government is controlled from Delhi completely.

I don’t know where you have heard this from. We don’t have to go to Delhi [leadership] to get anything cleared or to take a decision. Instead, Delhi backs us whenever we need their help or assistance.

First Published: Oct 27, 2018 00:29 IST