Thu, 30 Jun 2022 05:02 PM IST
Before 2014, hardly anyone would have imagined that Devendra Gangadharrao Fadnavis, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, would become Maharashtra's Chief Minister as the Shiv Sena was considered to be the elder brother of the saffron party in the state. However, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's arrival at the national scene, things changed for the BJP after it bagged 122 seats in the 288-member House, double than what the Sena won.
Following the elections, Fadnavis was made the Chief Minister, a move considered to be unexpected by political pundits as the BJP had several senior leaders who were being considered for the top post in Maharashtra.
At the age of 44, Fadnavis became the second-youngest Chief Minister of Maharashtra but this marked the beginning of an uneasy friendship for him with the Sena and its chief Uddhav Thackeray. However, Fadnavis - who started his political career at Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the 1990s - defied all odds and became only the second Chief Minister of Maharashtra after Vasantrao Naik to complete his full five-year tenure.
Fadnavis, who smartly handled all tough situations from 2014 to 2019 and kept the Sena in check, had gained the confidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then BJP national president Amit Shah.
In 2019, the BJP and Sena contested the assembly polls together and won comfortably. Fadnavis, who got elected from the Nagpur South West constituency, might have thought that his second term would be comparatively easier, but the Sena rebelled against the BJP over the Chief Minister's position.
It later withdrew its support from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), but Fadnavis became Chief Minister for a second time after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar. However, his second tenure as Chief Minister lasted just four days and he was forced to resign, admitting that he does not have the numbers.
Fadnavis, who was once the youngest Mayor of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, after his resignation in 2019 had vowed to make a comeback in the state. However, he reportedly had lost the faith of BJP top brass, including Amit Shah, for his failure to convince the Sena and Thackeray.
The Sena, which formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government with the NCP and Congress, had claimed that the BJP had promised to share all positions equally, including the Chief Minister's position, a claim that was rejected by the saffron party.
However, Fadnavis bounced back strongly and played a crucial role in the BJP's win in 2020 Bihar assembly elections. He later was also hailed for the party's strong performance in the 2022 Goa assembly polls.
Political pundits believed Fadnavis played a key role in strengthening the BJP at booth level. He also kept the MVA government on its toes and attacked its constantly for its 'misgovernance' during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Fadnavis turned out to be a very successful Opposition leader. He constantly had tours, programmes, and kept the MVA government on the back foot with his criticisms. In the entire duration of the MVA government, he was setting the narrative for the political discourse and constantly tried to expose the rifts between the three parties of the MVA," The Print quoted political analyst Hemant Desai as saying.
TOPPLING THE MVA GOVT
Trouble started brewing for the MVA government after the Rajya Sabha elections after the BJP won three out of six seats that went to polls. Later, the BJP also won five out of the 10 legislative council seats where polling was held last month.
Fadnavis reached out to independents and smaller parties, which NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said helped the BJP in the Rajya Sabha and MLC polls.
"The result doesn't surprise me. Congress, Shiv Sena, and NCP have been voted as per the quota, except (NCP's) Praful Patel who has received an extra vote - that vote is not from MVA, it's from the other side. We had fewer votes for the sixth seat but Shiv Sena fielded its candidate and tried to make him win. BJP had the support of many independent MLAs and we had only a few," Pawar told news agency ANI.
"The miracle happened because BJP's Devendra Fadnavis managed to get the Independents on their side... which made all the difference. But this will not affect the stability of the government (Maha Vikas Aghadi)," he added.
After the BJP and Eknath Shinde's faction claimed stake to form the government in Maharashtra following the collapse of the MVA government, Fadnavis announced that he won't be the Chief Minister. He declared that Shinde will be the new Chief Minister, adding that he won't be a part of the government.
Fadnavis' decision could be seen as his sacrifice, who gave up his personal aspirations to help the saffron party return to power and topple the MVA government.