I will take Aa­ditya’s claim to the CM’s post se­ri­ously only if Ud­dhavji brings it up

India Today - - INTERVIEW -

Deven­dra Fad­navis is the first Ma­ha­rash­tra chief min­is­ter to em­bark on a tour of the state seek­ing another man­date to gov­ern. The month-long Ma­ha­janadesh ya­tra will see him cover 30 dis­tricts, 157 as­sem­bly con­stituen­cies and over 4,000 km. In an in­ter­ac­tion with Ki­ran D. Tare, Fad­navis af­fects the con­fi­dence of a man who is cer­tain of a tri­umphant re­turn to power. ‘I shall re­turn’ goes the tagline of the ya­tra. Ex­cerpts:

Q. What made you em­bark on a statewide tour?

The BJP has a tra­di­tion of ya­tras. While in op­po­si­tion, we launched the sang­harsh (strug­gle) ya­tra. Now, when in power, we are on a sam­vad (di­a­logue) ya­tra to have a di­a­logue with the peo­ple. I am tak­ing word of the gov­ern­ment’s work to the peo­ple, judg­ing their re­sponses and seek­ing their bless­ings. It is an ex­er­cise to gauge what peo­ple think of us.

Q. You seem to have a mass con­nect... I can see their en­thu­si­asm. Peo­ple know your in­ten­tions are hon­est even if you are not able to fin­ish all the work you set out to do. We did not run away from chal­lenges. So peo­ple have a lot of ex­pec­ta­tions. They be­lieve in (Naren­dra) Modi’s pol­i­tics of de­vel­op­ment and trust.

Q. The BJP was an un­recog­nised force in Ma­ha­rash­tra 10 years ago. Today, you are as­pir­ing to win more than half the seats in the as­sem­bly.

Our work is our only brand value. Also, Modi’s strong lead­er­ship has sent out a clear mes­sage that there will not be any pol­icy paral­y­sis in the BJP.

Q. Then why are you in­duct­ing lead­ers from other par­ties?

Peo­ple from other par­ties want to join us as they can see how well our party is do­ing. But we have a pol­icy on in­duc­tions. Our doors are open to or­di­nary work­ers, but we fil­ter lead­ers. We are in an al­liance (Shiv Sena) and poll tick­ets for lead­ers from other par­ties will be lim­ited.

Q. Will the al­liance sur­vive with­out a tus­sle over seat-shar­ing?

Yes. There are tremen­dous pos­i­tives for the BJP in the state. We might make some ad­just­ments with the Sena. We are ready to suf­fer some losses, but we will go ahead with the al­liance. Our vic­tory will be un­prece­dented.

Q. Is a seat-shar­ing for­mula in place? We will first take a call on the seats to be spared for the Mi­tra Pak­sha (three smaller al­lies). The BJP and the Sena have 122 and 63 (of 288) as­sem­bly seats, re­spec­tively. So there is no dis­pute over them. After al­lot­ments to the Mi­tra Pak­sha, the two par­ties will share the re­main­ing seats.

“I’m not say­ing we have been suc­cess­ful on ev­ery front. But peo­ple are judg­ing us by our good in­ten­tions. They are watch­ing us make a sin­cere ef­fort to solve ev­ery is­sue. That mat­ters”

Q. Some Shiv Sena lead­ers are pro­ject­ing Aa­ditya Thack­eray as the fu­ture CM. Do you think he will be your main com­peti­tor?

Peo­ple of­ten say things to please their leader. I will take this talk se­ri­ously only if Ud­dhavji brings it up. Aa­ditya is an up­com­ing leader. He has the urge to learn. He seeks to be po­lit­i­cally ac­tive.

Q. Your op­po­nents al­lege the En­force­ment Direc­torate in­quiry against Ma­ha­rash­tra Navnir­man Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thack­eray was po­lit­i­cal vendetta.

The BJP does not have any re­la­tion with the En­force­ment Direc­torate. They are con­duct­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at IL&FS. The name of Ko­hi­noor Mills (once owned by Raj Thack­eray) cropped up dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If Raj Thack­eray has not done any­thing wrong, he has no rea­son to fear. We don’t need a vendetta. He is not a po­lit­i­cal threat to us. In the Lok Sabha elec­tion, he ex­tended sup­port to the Congress-NCP, still they lost.

Q. How do you look at the eco­nomic slow­down in the coun­try?

The Cen­tre changed the tax regime, which had some pos­i­tive and some neg­a­tive ef­fects. So many bank frauds took place be­tween 2008 and 2014. Public money was lost. The Modi gov­ern­ment has in­fused liq­uid­ity of Rs 70,000 crore into banks. They are try­ing to end the credit cri­sis. The slow­down will be over in two months.

Q. You are speak­ing with some au­thor­ity on a na­tional is­sue. Are you pre­par­ing to move to Delhi?

I am an obe­di­ent sol­dier, and will play the role the party asks me to. The party might ask me [to move to Delhi] after some time. Lead­ers need to run the party ef­fi­ciently. It’s a process. But, as of today, there is no such pos­si­bil­ity. ■

MANDAR DEODHAR

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