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2014 saw return of BJP-Sena regime in Maharashtra after 15 yrs

devendra fadnavis and uddhav thackeray

Mumbai: The return of a BJP-Sena regime after a love-hate war and gap of 15 years, demise of senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, collapse of Congress-NCP alliance and rising cases of farmers’ suicides dominated Maharashtra’s political landscape in 2014.

Devendra Fadnavis was on October 31 sworn in as chief minister of the state where BJP formed its government for the first time without an alliance.

44-year-old Fadnavis took oath at a grand function at Wankhede Stadium attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had campaigned intensively in Assembly polls, addressing as many as 27 poll rallies.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, whose party had decided to boycott the event citing “constant humiliation” by BJP during talks for formation of a coalition government, attended after a last minute call by BJP President Amit Shah.

Though BJP emerged the single largest party, with 122 seats, the figure was short of the 145 needed for majority in the 288-member House. The Sharad Pawar-led NCP announced unconditional outside support.

However, some in BJP were wary of Pawar’s game plan, amid speculation that NCP could use it as a bargaining chip to stall corruption cases against senior NCP leaders while they were ministers.

Back channel parleys continued with former ally Shiv Sena, with whom BJP had ended its 25-year-old alliance two days before the deadline for filing nominations for Assembly polls.

The parleys were successful and on December 4, Fadnavis announced that Sena will be joining his government “in keeping with the mandate” and will get 12 ministerial berths but there will be no deputy chief minister’s post. The next day, 10 Sena ministers, along with 10 from BJP took oath, raising the strength of Fadnavis ministry’s to 30.

Munde, the OBC face of BJP in Maharashtra who had just been named the Union Rural Development Minister, died of injuries in a road accident in Delhi in June. He was state BJP’s tallest mass leader, a fact acknowledged by Modi, when he said he would not have campaigned in the state had Munde been alive.

His daughter Pankaja was inducted in the Fadnavis Cabinet and given the rural development portfolio. Her sister Preetam won the Beed Lok Sabha bypoll, necessitated due to Munde’s demise, by a record margin of 6,92,245 votes.

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