Will the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis actually be the power behind the Maharashtra throne even though he was sworn in on Thursday as the state’s deputy chief minister? Or did Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde pull off a surprise by wresting the chief minister’s position that Fadnavis expected to get?
The swearing-in ceremony seemed to draw the curtains on one act of the Maharashtra political drama that began on June 20, when Shinde and several Shiv Sena MLAs decamped for a five-star hotel in Surat in neighbouring Gujarati. Their actions eventually topped the three-member Maha Vikas Aghadi government, when Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena resigned on Wednesday evening.
On Thursday, at a press conference to announce that the rebels would form a government in alliance with the BJP, Fadnavis – a former chief minister – declared that he would not have a position in the new set-up. Many observers suggested that he had been humiliated by not being offered the top job himself.
But a short while later, the BJP President JP Nadda said that the party’s central leadership had decided that Fadnavis should be part of the cabinet and he urged the Maharashta politician to take the job of deputy. Fadnavis acquiesced.
What does this all mean? Will Fadnavis actually drive decision-making in the state? India’s cartoonists weren’t certain.
Some believe that Fadnavis will control movements from backstage.
Others like Sandeep Adhwaryu suggested that Fadnavis had been thrown off guard by developments.