Fadnavis had been Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s favourite choice for the post for much of the BJP’s campaign before the state assembly election held on October 15. But in the week after the BJP emerged as the single-largest party by winning 122 seats, there had been some talk about senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari being in the running for the CM’s chair. However, at Tuesday’s meeting, Fadnavis was the unanimous choice of the legislators.
Fadnavis has a reputation for not being corrupt, with declared assets of just over Rs 4 crores. However, he has 22 cases of rioting against him. One charge against him dates back to 1991 and relates to "voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means". In 2009, he was booked for "making illegal payments in connection with an election".
Here is a quick recap of the life of Fadnavis, the 44-year-old leader from Nagpur who will now be the BJP’s first-ever chief minister in Maharashtra.
A lawyer from Nagpur University and a post-graduate in business management, Devendra Fadnavis is regarded as a well-read, highly-educated leader in the state BJP ranks. He also holds a diploma in project management from the DSE Foundation in Berlin.
Hailing from a Brahmin family in Nagpur, politics was not alien to Fadnavis. His family has a long association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, his father had once served as a member of the legislative council and his aunt Shobhatai Fadnavis served as a minister when the Shiv Sena-BJP ruled Maharashtra in the mid-1990s. Fadnavis’s own political career began at the age of 21, when he became the youngest municipal corporator of the Nagpur city civic body in 1992.
At that time, Fadnavis had already worked as an active member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and was also the Nagpur city president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He was elected to the Nagpur municipal corporation for two terms in a row, and when he was made the mayor of Nagpur in 1997, he set the record of being the second-youngest mayor in India at the age of 27.
Since 1999, he has also been a legislator in the Maharashtra state assembly from the Nagpur seat for three consecutive terms. Now, at the age of 44, Fadnavis has served as the general secretary of BJP Maharashtra and was made the state party president last year.
Young and clean
Besides the political milestones that he has accomplished at a relatively young age, Fadnavis is recognised within political circles for his speeches and his understanding of economics. Among the two Marathi books he has written, one is titled How to Understand and Read the State Budget, while the other is an explanatory booklet on budgetary concepts.
To underline is own efficiency as a politician, Fadnavis has also branded himself as a ‘chief political officer’ on his website, on the lines of a corporate chief executive officer.
“He is educated, well-read and gives clearly articulated speeches in the assembly,” said Surendra Jhondale, a political commentator based in Mumbai.
The fact that he has a clean image and is not overtly associated with any corruption controversy weighs in his favour.
One of the biggest advantages Fadnavis enjoys, however, is that he comes from Nagpur, the centre of the movement for a separate statehood for the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra. If Fadnavis is made chief minister, the residents of Nagpur – and the rest of Vidarbha – would not feel as neglected under the Maharashtra government as they have been feeling for several years.
Said Jhondale, "Fadnavis is young and has a clean image.”
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