Maharashtra Assembly Polls: I am more mature today than in 2014, says Devendra Fadnavis

Updated: Oct 20, 2019, 08:41 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

In Nagpur South-West, Congress candidate Ashish Deshmukh is challenging ex-supporter Fadnavis in a seat that's been BJP-loyal for 30 years

Devendra Fadnavis, CM and MLA Nagpur South-West, is confident of coming back to power in his hometown and as Maharashtra boss. Pic/Atul Kamble. (Right) Ashish Deshmukh, Congress candidate from Nagpur South-West, beat his uncle and sitting minister Anil Deshmukh from Katol in 2014. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Devendra Fadnavis, CM and MLA Nagpur South-West, is confident of coming back to power in his hometown and as Maharashtra boss. Pic/Atul Kamble. (Right) Ashish Deshmukh, Congress candidate from Nagpur South-West, beat his uncle and sitting minister Anil Deshmukh from Katol in 2014. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Friday saw the surge of pre-election campaigning in the city before the state sets out on vote on Monday in a single-phase election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mumbai to spearhead a rally and was joined by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and RPI leader Ramdas Athawale.

Later that night, Fadnavis met journalists at a BKC hotel for an informal chat. He expressed confidence that the Shiv Sena would win 80 seats in the 288-member legislative assembly, and that the BJP-Sena alliance would paint the entire state saffron. When a reporter at the table informed him that the highest seats ever won by a party was back in 1972 when the Indian National Congress bagged 222 seats, an amused Fadnavis said, "Todna padega isko (Looks like we'll have to break this). This is why I always say that we will get a two-third majority. Isse hum safe zone mein rehte hain (laughs)."

On Article 370

"Kashmir jaise Bharat mein hai, waise Maharashtra bhi Bharat mein hai. The topic here is of national interest." He criticised political parties "hiding behind burqas" and vowed to "unmask" them. He said that the Opposition is on the defensive, which is why they are creating a hue and cry about BJP playing the nationalism card.

Manmohan Singh's speech

Referring to former PM Manmohan Singh's recent speech at Wankhede stadium, he said "it seems" that Singh has done damage control for the Congress. Fadnavis acknowledged that although Singh has been an accomplished administrator, his speech was "entirely political". The bit about Veer Savarkar was in complete contrast to what Rahul Gandhi had said about him at a different platform. He said, "We can believe that amid all the election pressure, Savarkar compelled him [Singh] to change his narrative."

Economic slowdown

"The state accounts for 25 per cent of the total jobs in the country—this is unprecedented. It has never happened before. In 2014, the GSDP [Gross State Domestic Product] was Rs 16 lakh crore and now it is Rs 26 lakh crore. Our fiscal deficit, too, is well within control. Today, Maharashtra has a stronger administrative foundation that did during his (Singh's) tenure."

However, he admitted, "We expected a seven per cent growth rate but now it is projected at 5.8 per cent. But this cannot be termed a slowdown or recession because for that to happen, it has to be a negative growth rate."

Banking sector

He believed that some banks had performed well, but others—who had not followed the RBI norms and had committed fraud by playing favourites while giving loans—were the ones doing all the damage. "Because of this, the banking system has been under tremendous pressure. Thodi takleef bhi hai, but I think it is the right time to clamp down on such banks." He also hinted that may be it is time that the RBI took a hard look at its own auditing policies.

The BJP-Sena alliance

Lastly, speaking of the rocky but firm railroad that is the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, Fadnavis said that whatever was "speculated" to have happened between the two parties, "we have proved them wrong." "Humare beech mein jo bhi ho, but it is the political reality that ultimately counts. Yes, we have our differences, but it is not like how people imagine it to be."

Looking back at his five-year tenure, the CM said, "When you are faced with multiple problems and you keep finding solutions for them, you gain political maturity over time. I am more mature than I was in 2014. Everyone has different agendas, but you can't let them derail you from yours. This is something I have learnt from Modiji."

26
No. of seats BJP won solo in eastern Vidarbha in 2014, with 11 coming only from Nagpur district

25
Percentage of total jobs in the country that Maharashtra accounts for, according to the CM

25 per cent
of the total jobs in the country are accounted for by Maharashtra, says the CM

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