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Amruta Fadnavis: Sena is already with BJP, just two-three people are left behind

Updated on: 15 August,2022 09:52 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Poonam Ahuja | poonam.ahuja@mid-day.com

Amruta Fadnavis is more than just Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s wife. In an exclusive interview, she tells Mid-day.com how she strives to balance being a mother, a political spouse, a banker and a social worker, and how she views the Sena split and her husband’s political trajectory

Amruta Fadnavis: Sena is already with BJP, just two-three people are left behind

Amruta Fadnavis


Amruta Fadnavis, wife of Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, chooses her words carefully, aware that anything she says will make headlines. A banker, a mother, a political spouse, a trained singer and a state-level tennis player, she’s used to breaking stereotypes: she has adopted villages in Nagpur district, was a showstopper at New York Fashion Week to spread the message of girls’ education, and walked the ramp for NIFT to promote Maharashtra’s textile crafts. 


And, she says, she dislikes inhibitions – offering a contrast to her husband’s more studied public image. In a free-wheeling interview to mid-day.com, Amruta Fadnavis offers a glimpse into what makes her tick.

Edited excerpts:


ON BEING A POLITICAL SPOUSE

Was it challenging for you to find your footing and voice because your husband is a powerful political personality?
Not just me, it’s natural for any lady who has a powerful husband to exist as his shadow. She is respected tremendously, but isn’t recognised as an individual and that is obvious because you have a stronger person at home. So, that doesn't really deter me or affect me. The only thing to remember is that I continue to be the individual I always was. Some recognise it, a few don't. And that doesn't bother me. I'm comfortable in my own skin and happy if I can even inspire even a few people to help the ladies in their own homes find their ground.

As an independent working woman and professional singer, what motivates you?
I believe we have just one life and we need to achieve all that we can in this one journey. The inspiration for a girl starts from her own mother. When I was a child, I looked up to my mother. She is a doctor and has been taking care of the family too; she is my inspiration. And later, Devendra ji has been my biggest motivation. I am thoroughly inspired by the kind of social work he's doing through politics. He's using it as a tool for development. There are people who cast aspersions on us, but my mother and husband have been my support system.

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Does your husband encourage you to take a more active role in politics? 
My husband works round-the-clock. As we have a family, there are other responsibilities. I have a family to look after, along with other professional commitments. Along with my job (as vice-president at Axis Bank), I ensure I don’t neglect my passion for music. I have other social activities also that need my attention. And I have a young daughter to take care of. So, I think one person supporting the other from behind the curtains is important and I am happy in my role.

I am focused on my career and home. And what is politics? Isn't it a tool for social change? In a way I'm trying to bring about social change through participating in village development and looking after street children and the less fortunate. This is a part of politics, which is social work, which I'm taking care of. I think I'm using political power and making a difference in the lives of the needy. In a way, I am into politics. It doesn't matter to me whether I'm noticed by the media or not. What holds importance is whether I can make a positive difference or not.

ON STATE POLITICS AND THE SENA SPLIT

Devendra Fadnavis has returned to power in Maharashtra as the deputy CM. Your comments. 
We all know Devendra ji was backstabbed big time two years ago when it was already pre-decided that he would be side-lined, but he didn’t see that coming as he's a soft-hearted person and believes in humanity. From the day this was done to him, it was unacceptable, but from the very next day, he stood up and started his work as an opposition leader. That is what gained additional respect for him, because he did not brood over it even for a day and he was always ready to meet people, to find the points required for an opposition leader. That's what he did; he performed his duty. 

There were so many projects in Mumbai that were stalled by the earlier government. Now, those should be restarted. And that's what Devendra ji’s government is doing. I'm happy about it. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), with 25 million people, is the largest city after Tokyo. And I think lots of infrastructure is needed here. We need sustainable development. But in terms of infrastructure, all the projects which are going on, including the Mumbai Metro, the transharbour link and the coastal road project, all of them should be started again at a different speed altogether. That's what will make a difference in the lives of Mumbaikars. 

And also, sustainable development is what they have to think of. If we think of Mumbai rivers, they are in bad shape. We have to rejuvenate the Dahisar, Poisar, Mithi rivers. We have to see to it that mangroves are sustained. But at the same time, we have to see the convenience of Mumbai’s citizens, and for that, we need state-of-the-art infrastructure, the speed of which needs to be increased so that we have comfort in our lives.

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Do you believe the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is responsible for its own downfall in Maharashtra?
That's what Devendra ji had once mentioned in his interview: due to their internal conflicts, MVA will lose power, and that’s what happened. They sidelined Devendra ji, who was like a brother to them, two years ago, so life comes full circle. Karma comes back. It has happened with them and I feel sorry for them also. But that's the way they conducted themselves. The most deserving of them all is still in power. and I think Eknath Shinde ji is a gem of a person in terms of the way he works, and he's at the right position. I think both Eknath ji and Devendra ji will do good for the city and for Maharashtra. 

Should the Sena talk to the BJP for a patch-up? Is there any possibility of reconciliation?
The Sena is already with the BJP. I do not know about two-three people who are left behind; they do not make the Sena. The BJP and Sena are already together.

What is your message to the opposition?
There are no lifetime enemies in politics and shouldn't be. Timing plays an important role; sometimes people are here, sometimes people are there. I would just urge everyone that whatever developmental goals the new government has, please support them. There might be issues, but they can be resolved though meetings and discussions.

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ON THE AAREY METRO SHED CONTROVERSY

Do you think the Eknath Shinde-led government is being misled on the Aarey metro car shed issue?
There is a lot which was explained by Ashwini Bhide ji. It is not the way it has been showcased.  There is a little parcel of area, which requires the cutting of trees. Just like the greenery at Nagpur Metro car shed, we can replant trees at the Aarey car shed too. So, nature and development can coexist. I think we don’t have to do away with the greenery. And wherever possible, we should keep planting trees. We have Aarey with us, but only a patch of land we need for the car shed [is being cleared]. That is for the convenience of the citizens of Mumbai.

ON MARRIAGE AND MOTHERHOOD

How has the journey of marriage been so far?
Oh, it is as it is for most couples; sometimes roses, sometimes thorns, but that respect for each other is all that matters. Understanding and knowing each other is more important than just texting 24x7.

Was it a conscious decision to shield your daughter from the public, given that she has high-profile parents?
She's so busy with her school life, sports and extracurricular activities that she has no time to be in the media. I don’t think she even has the inclination towards the glamour world. These are not years where she needs to be seen on camera. She has been raised like any other normal child. During their growing years, children don’t need such exposure. The child needs to just strengthen their own fundamental attributes to later traverse the journey of life beautifully. 

Thankfully, at school, she is not given VIP treatment. Her school has kept her grounded. And at home, both of us spend a great deal of time with her; we try to be friends with her. I try my best to take key updates of her day. And she has no priorities in terms of being a politician's child; we ensure that she's never given that kind of priority anywhere. I take her along with me for social work so that she knows the ground reality of how a common man struggles to make ends meet. This reality check, I believe, helps keep her grounded. Her grandparents also teach her important lessons from the Vedas, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

Is Devendra Fadnavis an emotional person? Is he romantic?
He is definitely an emotional person. And he really has a very soft heart. I would say he is concerned a lot about me. But he is not like those typical romantic men who will give you flowers or compliment you often. He believes in inner beauty and is always more attracted to what a person is from inside. His choice is a golden-hearted woman, rather than an hourglass body shape. I really respect him for that.

Who is the boss at home?
As I've always said, he's the boss and I take the decisions.

After a fight, who says sorry first?
Believe me when I say this, we never fight. I understand his urgencies and preferences. I always operate according to his requirements. And similarly, he supports me in whatever I need. There's no need for a fight.

What kind of food does your family enjoy?
We eat a balanced diet, like sabzi, roti (jowar/bajra is our preference), dal and chawal. I cook once in a while, but I instruct my cook on how the meals have to be prepared and the ingredients to be avoided. 

One habit, you love and dislike about your husband.
His irregular routine and odd mealtimes irk me. He has no time for exercise. But that's the kind of public life he's living. He is very honest and transparent. That's what I like about him. And as I said, he's soft-hearted. Additionally, he understands what I as a spouse would want to have in life and he respects that. Not that I need his backing, but his support helps me mentally.

Describe him as a leader.
It's very rare for a politician to be soft-hearted. And, that's why he's been taken for a ride. But he has come out a winner. I'm proud his hard work paid off. He has a vision for Maharashtra. And he is open to new ideas and changes. I like that quality of his.

Does your husband sing well?
He remembers thousands of songs and their perfect. And I easily remember tunes and forget lyrics. Whenever I forget the lyrics of a song in a family gathering, he reminds me of the lyrics.

ON INDEPENDENCE DAY AND PATRIOTISM

How do you define patriotism?
The spirit of patriotism is always in our hearts. One should always remember that people make the nation. If you’re a responsible citizen who pays taxes on time, treasures public property, maintains cleanliness, among other factors, then it is sorted to quite an extent. These are small things but still not being done, or we wouldn’t need a prime minister to request citizens to fight the problem of littering.

What will your Independence Day celebration look like?
This year, we are going to hoist the flag at home, and then I have a programme with a tribal community in Thane. Also, I have to attend the launch of a start-up that produces medicines at low costs for the needy population. It's a busy day on 15th August.

What is that one thing that you want to be independent from?
I don’t want to have any inhibitions. There are inhibitions when you operate a certain way, because you think someone might say something, or someone might retaliate or troll. So, I want to be completely free of these inhibitions. Because somewhere I know, whatever I'm doing is in the right direction, and it will never harm anyone, it will always be good for everyone. But still, at times, I have this feeling that I am on the back foot, because this might get challenged, or that might get trolled. I want to be free of that.

ON DEALING WITH TROLLS

How do you deal with trolls on social media?
Oh, that is disgusting. But I've learnt to deal with it positively. I think it can be a stepping stone to becoming a better or stronger person in life. And I believe trolls are politically motivated and paid by opposition parties; I look at it only that way. What matters to me is the suggestion of my near and dear ones and good friends. And I stick to their suggestions. 

How do you react when people comment on what you wear?
As you are in public life through social media, you are voluntarily putting your thoughts or photographs out there. It's not that I've kept it between the four walls of a house. It's a part and parcel of the game of social media. You have to accept it with a pinch of salt. It's the right of other social media handles to comment on it.

ON MUMBAI AND WOMEN’S SAFETY

Do you think now Mumbai is now a safer place to live in?
Mumbai has always been safe to live in. There have been patches, like during the last two-and-a-half years, where the governing heads were not that strong and there were issues in terms of governance. Mumbai was always the safest city, especially for women, but there were a few years when there was dheela governance in the city. However, now there is better governance in the state.

What is your message for the women of Mumbai and Maharashtra?
The women of Mumbai and Maharashtra are the epitome of independence for the entire nation. They maintain a balance between their personal and work lives and I am proud of being a part of such a culture. Kudos to all the women of Maharashtra; they are the torch-bearers of our culture.

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