Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at a press conference after the announcement of results. PIC/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
No other leader in the BJP was as confident as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of an astounding performance in Mumbai, eight other civic corporations and 26 zilla parishad elections. That cocksureness paid off and how!
Some BJP seniors did not support the idea of the CM taking the entire workload upon himself, fearing that overexposing him would not better the party's prospects. But, Fadnavis consistently thought otherwise. He meticulously planned his campaign, splitting his time between rural and urban areas for 15 days. He returned every night to Mumbai to strategise with local leaders because winning the BMC had become a paramount goal for him. For, on stake in the 'mini-assembly elections' were his leadership qualities.
The results showed that the people of Maharashtra had accepted Fadnavis as the BJP's sole face and made him an undisputed leader by making the party clinch an unprecedented performance in urban as well as rural areas. Only the Thane Municipal Corporation proved an exception, where the BJP finished third.
The Sena had concentrated fully in Mumbai; it didn't worry much about Thane owing to Eknath Shinde's clout there. The loss of Sena's grip gave the CM a freeway to explore regions other than Mumbai and return triumphant. However, what set Fadnavis apart from his predecessors is the strength that he showed in taking the Sena head-on in Mumbai.
"Finally, it is proved that the city wants development, the city wants transparency. I talked development and transparency across Maharashtra. People believed in me and my leader PM Narendra Modi's vision of development," he told mid-day after the results.
Under Fadnavis, the BJP has regained his hometown, Nagpur, and won Amravati and Akola in Vidarbha. The CM's biggest achievement should be victories in Pune, Solapur and Nashik, where the BJP was nowhere in the reckoning in the recent past in civic bodies. In Pune, the Congress and the NCP saw a drubbing. In Solapur, Congress leader and former CM Shishilkumar Shinde bit the dust, and in Nasik, the MNS was reduced to minnows and the Sena pushed into a corner. In the rural polls, the BJP was increasing its numbers by the hour. It won 400 seats in ZPs and 803 in panchayat samitis.
Summing up Fadnavis's performance, a political analyst Abhay Deshpande said the BJP leader has come of age and was on his way to becoming a force to reckon with in the party.