By Abhishek Jha:
The emergence of a young leader always arouses curiosity. While parties have youth wings to woo young people into following them, one hardly sees these young people rise to prominence early in their life. Young leaders attract the attention of the youth and have to bear the burden of expectations of the otherwise politically ignorant person too. The constant public scrutiny requires that the leader works with integrity and delivers on her/his promises. When Akhilesh Yadav took power in Uttar Pradesh, people hoped for a better future from a leader who was seen as well educated, modern, and tech-savvy. People will have similar expectations from Devendra Fadnavis who is taking control of a state mired in corruption. As he gears up to be the first BJP chief minister of Maharashtra, here are some interesting facts about him.
1. Early signs: Both teachers and childhood friends remember Fadnavis to be a “generous and respectful” person who “got on well with everybody easily” (source). Born to politically active parents (his father was an MLC from Nagpur and his mother was the Director of the Vidarbh Housing Credit Society), he took to politics early in his life. Associated with the RSS since childhood, he became an ABVP member while in college. He soon went on to become the ward president of BJYM. He is the second-youngest person in India and the youngest in Nagpur to have become a mayor. He has had an untainted record as a politician and is seen as an honest and humble person by one and all.
2. Political career: He rose fast through the ranks in the BJP. From being a ward president of BJYM, he went on to become Nagpur city president in 1992, state vice president in 1994, and national vice president in 2001. He is currently the president of BJP Maharashtra. Besides being the mayor from 1997 to 2001, he was also a member of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation from 1992 to 2001. He has remained the MLA from Nagpur since 1999. At just 44, he has had a string of successes as a politician. Having worked his way up from the grassroots, he is a seasoned politician. Even though a rift seemed to appear recently between Fadnavis and his mentor Gadkari over the post of Chief Minister, reconciliation seems to have been reached. He is clearly a favourite with the party leadership and also with the RSS where his father was a pracharak.
3. The scholar Fadnavis: A law graduate from Nagpur University, he went on to do a post-graduate degree in Business Management. He also has a diploma in Methods and Techniques of Project Management from D.S.E Berlin. He continues to use his education to this day and analyses the national budget every year. Besides, he has also published a book titled ‘How To Understand & Read State Budget‘. Adjudged ‘best speaker’ in National Inter University Debate, one may expect more rational argumentation from him than most political leaders in the country. Addressing a rally in Nagpur earlier this month, Fadnavis- who has the honour of winning the ‘Best Parliamentarian Award’ by the Commonwealth Parliamentarian Association- was lauded by the prime minister for being an “aware and alert Parliamentarian” (source) He is a regular participant in conferences on environmental issues across the globe. While quite a few politicians boast of degrees from abroad, it is his continuing engagement with issues in which he has had academic interest that sets him apart.
4. Activism: Fadnavis has been a vocal critic of the state government’s indifference to the problems of Vidarbha, a region plagued by lack of development and frequent farmer suicides. In August, he even promised a separate budget for farmers. His activism seems to go beyond what would be construed as vote-bank politics. When CPCB tried to dispose toxic waste from Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant in Maharashtra, he argued against it in the Assembly (source). This amalgamation of scientific methods and his knowledge, with his activist tendencies, might propel him to greater heights if he continues to work as he has done so far.