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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Devendra Fadnavis has an opportunity in opposition, but needs better strategy | Opinion

Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a volley of tweets targeted former ally and CM Uddhav Thackeray over the new common minimum programme, the first cabinet meeting and his first decision to stay construction of the car shed at Aarey for a Metro project.

mumbai Updated: Dec 01, 2019 15:31 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Mumbai, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis speaks during a press conference after announcing his resignation as Maharashtra chief minister in Mumbai
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis speaks during a press conference after announcing his resignation as Maharashtra chief minister in Mumbai(REUTERS)
         

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has spared no time to indicate that it will play the role of an aggressive opposition in Maharashtra.

Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a volley of tweets targeted former ally and CM Uddhav Thackeray over the new common minimum programme, the first cabinet meeting and his first decision to stay construction of the car shed at Aarey for a Metro project.

Fadnavis had backed the Aarey project during his tenure.

On the day of the trust vote on Saturday, Fadnavis had attacked the coalition government for violating constitutional norms before his party staged a walk out from the assembly.

BJP insiders said that the trust vote day strategy was to set the tone, galvanise MLAs over loss of power and maximise the opportunity of occupying the entire opposition space in Maharashtra, for the time being.

The BJP does have an opportunity as the sole opposition party. This is the first time since 1999 when NCP was formed that one party is occupying all Opposition benches. With Shiv Sena making a shift away from Hindutva, the BJP can consolidate its vote bank.

Fadnavis as the Leader of Opposition can make the most of his position to stage a political. He is a good orator and a legislator, one who understands administration and its nuances; has a clean image and can put the new government on the mat.

But, BJP needs a better strategy than the shrill aggression over violation of constitutional norms seen on the day of the trust vote.

“There is bound to be anger and hurt as we lost despite having the numbers. I agree we are often victims of our own arrogance. Because we shouted ‘ab ki bar do sau bis par’, us getting 105 seats was branded as a loss,’’ said a senior BJP leader, who didn’t wish to be named.

He said a better strategy would be for the party to bid its time and target the government over issues such as the promised farm loan waiver and unemployment compensation.

“There are already fissures between the three parties. It’s not going to be long before they make blunders. We still have time to form our government in near future but we will no longer talk about it,’’ the leader said.

A part of the strategy would be for Fadnavis to build his own team in the state legislature instead of carrying the entire responsibility. While BJP has strong numbers, the party lacks good speakers and floor managers.

Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has an entire row of senior leaders and good orators, from former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan to Jayant Patil, Dilip Walse Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal.

Currently, Fadnavis even lacks a good second-in-command, who can garner the respect of the House or tackle the Congress and NCP heavyweights.

State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil has been elected to the lower House for the first time while senior leaders like Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde, who have the experience and wherewithal to hold their own in the assembly, have been sidelined. Both were not given tickets to contest the polls.

BJP needs to think of its strategy beyond the state legislature because many of its legislators now were originally in NCP and Congress.

Professor Nitin Birmal, a Pune-based political analyst, said BJP musn’t make the mistake of thinking that they can occupy the entire opposition space.

“Maharashtra is not like other states. Here all the four parties [BJP, Sena, NCP and Congress] have created their own vote banks and constituencies. The NCP and Sena pose a further challenge as their alliance can be cemented on the common plank of regional pride and regional leadership,’’ Birmal said.

He added that relying only on Hindutva won’t carry BJP beyond a point in Maharashtra.