Editor of OpIndia.com, Nupur Sharma, recently interviewed Ashish Chandorkar, author of the newly released book, ‘The Fadnavis Years’. The book, ‘The Fadnavis Years’, focuses on Devendra Fadnavis’ rise to power and his tenure thus far as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Chandorkar says that he was motivated by the urge to describe things as they are happening currently. He says, “We are pretty bad at documenting contemporary history. People who are even politically aware, their knowledge of what has happened in recent years, what drives politics in each state, the idea of politics for them is very abstract.” He goes on to say that a lot of things has changed in recent years and that there was a need for a contemporary perspective. It is that sentiment that emerged in the form of his book, ‘The Fadnavis Years’.
The author also elaborates on the increasing differences between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. Bal Thackeray’s death was a critical moment in the relationship between the two parties as until then, his towering leadership bound both parties together. From Sena’s perspective, he says, they have been traditionally strong in certain pockets of the state. Combined with the personal ambitions of the leadership of the party to grow their base and the credible threat mounted by the BJP to dislodge it from the stature of the senior partner in the alliance, they ended up taking some decisions which have resulted in a fallout.
The 2014 Assembly elections in the state saw 4 parties contesting for power individually. Chandorkar asserts that the reason for this was that every party wanted to figure out where they stand individually with the Modi factor kicking in. Moreover, the BJP was also more confident about their chances than ever after the Lok Sabha elections. He says, “The BJP’s perspective changed, it was they who were in the lead and they were no longer the smaller party. Because of the Lok Sabha success, the BJP thought why should it compromise when the seat-sharing talks were going on.” He also says that multiple rounds of talks were held where the BJP wanted to continue with the alliance but with the added clause of having the upper hand.
Fadnavis was chosen as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra on the basis a combination of factors. Contrary to popular claims, Chandorkar insists that Fadnavis was not ‘airdropped’ into the national scene after the election. He documents that Fadnavis rose to the position he is in today by rising meticulously through the ranks. Fadnavis’ image as a clean politician worked in his favour, claims Chandorkar. “He is someone people could relate to.” The second factor that works in his favour is his focus on infrastructure and the ‘no-nonsense’ manner in which he has gone about his work.
Agricultural marketing is one of the areas where Fadnavis has significantly improved things. His policy reforms in the agricultural sector have improved things for the better significantly. The infrastructure projects initiated by Fadnavis is another great achievement of his, claims Chandorkar. The metro projects and highway projects he has initiated have made an immediate impact. His communication strategy has also helped him convey his message significantly.
Our Editor also asked Chandorkar about Fadnavis’ perceived lack of support for ‘core’ Hindu issues. He says that he made a conscious decision to not focus too much attention on ‘core’ as he was focused on Fadnavis’ work on policies. According to him, ‘core’ voter is someone who votes unconditionally. He says that he does not dismiss the ‘core’ issues but these are not issues that people vote on. “If these issues had great political relevance, BJP would have already lost several elections.” “If people were actually voting on what people on Twitter call ‘core’ issues, then BJP would have already been nonexistent in the state. What has happened is exactly the opposite,” Chandorkar says.
Chandorkar also believes that Fadnavis hasn’t received the credit he deserves. He says that if BJP goes on to perform well in the state in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a lot of the credit should go to Fadnavis. The book ‘The Fadnavis Years’ focuses greatly on Fadnavis’ policy reforms and how he has strengthened BJP’s position in the state and has navigated through a highly complicated political scene to only emerge stronger than before.
Aashish Chandorkar’s book, ‘The Fadnavis Years’ can be bought here