Fadnavis will be Maharashtra’s youngest chief minister after Sharad Pawar, who was 38 when he took charge in 1978, and the second Brahmin to preside over the state after the Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi.
Fadnavis, who took to politics when he was barely 22 years old, pledged to provide good governance—a la Narendra Modi. “I assure the people of Maharashtra that we will make efforts to take Maharashtra forward the way Modi has given good governance and is guiding the country on the path of development,” said Fadnavis, who is married to bank manager Amruta and father of a teenage daughter, Divija. He spoke in Marathi and Hindi as supporters burst firecrackers and distributed sweets.
Fadnavis is likely to be sworn in at a public ceremony at the Wankhede Stadium to be attended by Modi, Shah, BJP chief ministers and over 30,000 guests. Hailing from Nagpur, Fadnavis has strong RSS connections that helped him overcome the challenge to his leadership, including by mentor and central minister Nitin Gadkari.
This will be for only the second time in the state that a non-Congress government will assume office. The Shiv Sena and the BJP ran a coalition government led by Manohar Joshi and later Narayan Rane, both from the Sena, in 1995-99. The BJP is the single largest party in the 288-seat house with 122 legislators, short of the half way mark needed for a legislative majority. One legislator, G.M. Rathod, died of heart attack on Oct 27, reducing its strength to 121.
The BJP has the support of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha’s sole legislator and the Shiv Sena as well as the unconditional backing of the Nationalist Congress Party. But Fadnavis made no reference to the Shiv Sena, whose 25-year-old alliance with the BJP was dumped by the latter ahead of the elections amid a row over seat sharing.
After taking a stridently anti-BJP, anti-Modi line during the election campaign, the Sena warmed up to the BJP after it bagged only 63 seats, far less than 122 won by the BJP. Until now, the Shiv Sena had always been the big brother to the BJP in Maharashtra.
His colleagues have high regard for Fadnavis, who, they say, keeps his word - a rare trait in politics today - and has a sound understanding of business matters. His oratory has won him many admirers.
Aware of the Maratha domination of Maharashtra politics, Fadnavis underplays his caste. “Maharashtra has moved beyond such criteria. Today’s youths want development, progress.” (IANS)