Mumbai: As the BJP-led Government in Maharashtra sails into third year in office, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ clean image is widely seen as its single most positive aspect despite many internal and external challenges it faces, including frequent taunts by ally Shiv Sena and the campaign by Maratha community for reservation.
Most political observers preferred to rate the performance of the Government in the last two years as “mixed”. Despite his good intentions and development thrust, Fadnavis’s efforts have not yielded desired results for want of proper support and push from his team.
Fadnavis (46) was sworn in on October 31, 2014 with the BJP emerging as the single largest party, though short of absolute majority, in Assembly polls. The BJP and Sena had parted ways on the eve of polls and the Ministry was offered outside support by Sharad Pawar-led NCP. Sena, however, returned to the alliance a few months later.
Unlike some of his ministerial colleagues, Fadnavis has remained untouched by allegations of misconduct. Virtual No 2 in the Cabinet, Eknath Khadse, had to quit after coming under the cloud of allegations earlier this year.
Opposition Congress and NCP, however, declined to set great store by Fadnavis’s personal charisma and unsullied reputation, alleging he has been shielding some of his colleagues facing allegations.
Observers point out that another plus point of Fadnavis is he enjoys the trust and confidence of the BJP’s central leadership, as was demonstrated by the Khadse episode.
Though some of his BJP colleagues in the Ministry like Vinod Tawde and Pankaja Munde nurse chief ministerial ambitions, they are no real threat to Fadnavis, they added.
“BJP calls itself a party with difference, but it has not been able to show that its first ever government in Maharashtra is a Government with a difference. They also said Fadnavis should not have given clean chit to Ministers facing allegations,” they said.
One major issue over which the BJP and Shiv Sena had frequent face-off was the Vidarbha statehood demand. While the BJP favours smaller states, the Sena is opposed to bifurcation of Maharashtra to create a separate Vidarbha state and often took sharp dig at Fadnavis, who hails from that region.
In a veiled reference to the Vidarbha issue, Sena MP Sanjay Raut told PTI that the Government should implement the agenda for united Maharashtra and not the party’s (BJP) political programme.
Another front that Government had to face attack from the farm sector distress, caused mainly by the grim drought faced by Marathwada and other parts of the state in the previous years.