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Fadnavis pilots BJP-Shiv Sena victory in Maharashtra (IANS SPECIAL)

IANS  |  Mumbai 

There is an ungrudging admiration and near-total unanimity among political circles that Chief is the of the Bharatiya Janata Party-victory in

Considered the blue-eyed boy of Narendra Modi, Fadnavis, 49, not only commandeered a repeat performance of 23-18 Lok Sabha seats (in 2014) for the BJP-Sena in 2019, but also strengthened the alliance's prospects for a similar sweep in the state Assembly elections, due in October.

Armed with data and statistics, leading his team of backroom 'trouble-shooters' and aggressively attacking the Opposition while deflecting their multi-pronged invectives, he hugely succeeded in averting any electoral fallout.

One example: thumbed the nose at the 56-party Opposition 'Mahagathbandhan' saying what was needed was a '56-inch chest' -- and the May 2019 elections outcome has proved him correct.

However, till February, uncertainty loomed over which way the ruling alliance was headed with an obstinate vowing to have no truck with the BJP in any future elections, embarassing it with a daily dose of poisonous darts fired through party's mouthpieces 'Saamana' and 'Dopahar Ka Saamana', and even attempting to seize the 'Hindutva' card with a visit to Ayodhya in November.

Fadnavis, aided by his trusted lieutenants like ministers Chandrakant Patil and Girish Mahajan, finally bottled the fickle Sena 'genie' into a pre-poll alliance.

Surprisingly, he even extracted a bonus wish from the Sena -- an alliance in the upcoming Assembly elections -- and then generously granted the Sena most of its known (and probably some unknown) conditions for the alliance -- and the two parties were half-way home!

"The instructions were simple and clear -- the alliance is necessary for both the parties. It must be done at any cost," revealed a senior party leader,

After his flock was ensnared and safe, the challenge of fighting 'external' forces, or the Opposition started, with personally leading the most aggressive charge.

At one point during the campaign, he boomed at a public rally "that the Pawar family would be wiped out from politics" and at another, even talked of bagging an incredulous 45 of the state's 48 parliamentary seats.

Well, the alliance fell partly short of that target, but retained its 2014 tally of 41 seats even in 2019, in what he described as "not a Modi-wave, but a silent Modi-Tsunami" that flattened the Opposition.

More than half-way into the campaign, an unexpected knight in shining armour appeared on the political arena, in the form of Navnirman Sena (MNS)

His nearly a dozen rallies in different parts of the state served to somewhat unnerve the ruling alliance for its potential damage, but Fadnavis and his warriors hit back with equal vigour.

Raj Thackeray's famous line "laav re video" (play the video), which sought to expose the ruling BJP at the state and Centre, finally proved to be a flop show and after the elections, his estranged cousin responded to it mockingly: "Laav re fatake" (light the fire-crackers).

Modi himself addressed around a dozen rallies in the state compared to Rahul Gandhi's less than half-a-dozen, and with few other national leaders coming to aid the Maharashtra battle.

For the BJP-Sena alliance, silent blessings came in the form of the alliance called the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi -- an unprecedented experiment of the Dalit-Muslim factor in the state.

As it has turned out, the ate away more than 42 lakh votes across the state and instead of denting the BJP-Sena support base, it has hit the Opposition's prospects in at least 16 constituencies.

Though President himself lost, the AIMIM managed to get its Aurangabad Central MLA Imtiaz elected from Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat. Syed knocked out veteran to bag the Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat by a narrow margin.

However, all the damage-control measures by the alliance could not prevent the Sena from losing five of its seats, including Raigad, where its sole was felled by NCP's Sunil Tatkare, and the BJP forfeiting its Union for Home Hansraj G. Ahir to the Congress' in Chandrapur -- seats which were acounted for in Fadnavis' original calculations.

Stunned by the factor, the -- in an early-bird initiative -- invited them to form an alliance with it in the Assembly elections, with rumours that even Raj Thackeray's MNS may take a political plunge now.

Little wonder, the state's first BJP -- and the second Brahmin -- has done justice to Modi's laurels, who had once said: "Fadnavis is a gift to the people of Maharashtra", and later a slogan became popular: "Desh me Narendra, Pradesh me Devendra."

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

--IANS

qn/rtp

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 26 2019. 07:06 IST
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