Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis has assured that Maharashtra will be at the top in India. Speaking to businessline, Fadnavis stated that despite Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar trying to divide voters, the BJP along with the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena will form a government in Maharashtra (in the Assembly polls). Edited excerpts:


Critical projects including the Nanar refinery are facing hurdles in Maharashtra; the International Financial Services Centre (IFC) has gone to Gujarat. How is the government going to ensure it brings back projects to the state?

Nanar refinery was relocated to Barsu, and a new investigation has been going on for one year including testing of soil. We are monitoring the project and a report will soon be out. We will get back the project to Maharashtra.

IFC went to Gujarat in 2012. The Maharashtra government was sleeping between 2004 and 2014. When I came in 2019 I fought for the IFC in Mumbai.  We got the assurance that the second IFC will come to Mumbai and will be in Maharashtra.


Tesla is expected to come to India soon and Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are leading the race to secure the project. Will you try to get Tesla to Maharashtra?

Yes. We will try and get Tesla to Maharashtra. 


The economic survey of 2022-23 shows that Maharashtra was behind Karnataka and Gujarat. What is your strategy to bring Maharashtra back on top? 

Maharashtra lagged in 2021.  We got the assurance that the second IFC will come to Mumbai and will be in Maharashtra. Maharashtra’s Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) is 42 per cent of total FDI and the highest in the country. The only time Maharashtra was behind was when Uddhav Thackeray was the chief minister. After we formed the government for the second time we got Maharashtra back to number one. 


Do you think Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar are able to pose a challenge in polls despite a split in parties?

Every election is a challenge. The opposition tried in the last election as well as this election but they could not win. This time their narrative against the Prime Minister will not stand. 


PM Narendra Modi is focussing a lot in Maharashtra and speaking at more rallies as compared to the past. Is there any uncertainty here?

No. This time the number of rallies is higher because of the number of phases and more days. We have purposely done rallies in the seats of Shiv Sena and NCP (where contesting). 


What is the repercussion of taking in Ajit Pawar? Did it help the party?

We explained the move to our voters, party cadre and BJP leaders. The problem occurred in western Maharashtra wherein people were pitted against each other. We explained to them how they tried to isolate the Prime Minister. Our association with Shiv Sena is emotional and with NCP it is political.


BJP was negotiating hard with Eknath Shinde on seat sharing. How confident are you on winning in Maharashtra?

The decision of candidates was with Shiv Sena, we do not look at candidates. For us Prime Minister Narendra Modi is important. Anyone who votes for Eknath Shinde (Shiv Sena) will vote for Narendra Modi and anybody who votes for any other party will vote for Rahul Gandhi.

We are confident that Maharashtra will go with Narendra Modi and we will win all six seats in Mumbai.


What are your views on the mobilisation of minorities voting against the BJP?

In Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray and other parties feel that they’re (minorities) the only vote bank that can save them. So, they have created a sense of fear among minorities. Our basic approach is different from them. Their approach is that the first right in resources is for Muslims while we say the first right is for the poor and when we say poor, it includes minorities. All schemes of the Prime Minister have beneficiaries including minorities. 


Do you plan to take up a portfolio at the Centre after the elections?

The decision is up to the party but as I see the situation in Maharashtra, for some more time I will be here. The decision on Maharashtra Chief Minister will be taken by our parliamentary board.