Just as a rather unexciting election campaign was coming to an end in Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said his party “doesn’t fight with kids”. The veteran leader was hitting out at the state chief minister, who much to Pawar’s chagrin has been the new unbeatable kid on the block for the past five years now despite his tenure being marked by several issues—unemployment, farmers’ distress, the controversial Mumbai Metro-3 car shed project in Aarey, etc.
But what perhaps makes Devendra Gangadharrao Fadnavis’s political rise astonishing is the fact that the 49-year-old managed to emerge as the most popular leader in a state otherwise awash with Modi magic.
Hailing from Nagpur, Fadnavis’s ideologies have been shaped by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which oversaw his rise through the ranks.
A law graduate, he started with the party’s youth wing in 1989, became a corporator at the age of 22 in 1992, and went on to become the youngest mayor of Nagpur Municipal Corporation in 1997. This was followed by an unbroken four-term stint as an MLA increasing his winning margin every term, before becoming the chief minister of the state. And now, he is eyeing a return.
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