Fadnavis leads BJP to victory in Goa, may see a bigger role at national level
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) performance “beyond expectations” in Goa has helped former chief minister and senior leader Devendra Fadnavis, who was the Assembly election in-charge for the coastal state, gain some political heft within the ranks and strengthen his position at the national level.
This is the second such victory for Fadnavis after Bihar in October 2020.
"The win in Goa is significant as the party unit there was facing many a challenge. It was facing an anti-incumbency wave after having ruled for 10 years and the criticism of poor handling of the second wave of Covid-19 last year. This was the first election the party fought after the demise of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar. The revolt by his son Utpal had become an issue. Handling of over 30 leaders who had come from other parties and the infighting because of the sheer number of aspirants for party tickets was a herculean task. But he did not remain behind the curtain and played a key role in micro-level planning," said a leader close to Fadnavis.
The leader said the party’s internal assessment was that it could win maximum 15 seats. “We won 20 seats and the three independents have handed over their letters of support. This is the outcome of the strategy by Fadnavis.”
Ütpal’s revolt, the leader said, had become a bone of contention and was taken to an emotive level by opponents. “But Fadnavis handled it so well by convincing people that the party had high regards for Manohar Parrikar and Utpal was given a fair chance but it was he who refused it. It helped the party keep Parrikar sympathisers intact.”
Fadnavis, who served as the second youngest CM of Maharashtra between 2014 and 2019, was sworn in at the age of 44. The BJP won the election in 2014 riding high on the Modi wave and under the leadership of Fadnavis as the state unit chief. He ruled the state for five years and called the shots not only in the government but also within the party. Even two and half years after he lost power as ally Shiv Sena snapped ties, Fadnavis’s is still the last word in the state unit of the party. A section of senior leaders was reportedly unhappy with his style of functioning, but the dissenting voice was never made public.
Political analyst Hemant Desai said not only in the state but even at the national level, Fadnavis’s stature has improved. “He is considered as one of the successors of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the success in Goa has strengthened his position at the national level. His role in Maharashtra is also important, especially after the results of five state Assembly election and the party would always love to come back to power in the state.”