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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

Devendra Fadnavis will be Maharashtra’s first BJP chief minister

MUMBAI: Devendra Fadnavis will head Maharashtra’s first BJP government after its newly elected legislators set aside their differences to pick the 44-year-old as their house leader.

Bharatiya Janata Party activists here and across the sprawling state celebrated after Eknath Khadse, who was a contender for the post, proposed Fadnavis’ name at a meeting overseen by party veterans from Delhi.

Fadnavis’ candidature was seconded by Vinod Tawde, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Pankaja Munde, daughter of the late Gopinath Munde who too was in the race for the chief minister’s post at one point.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh and party leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy, OP Mathur and JP Nadda were at the meeting at the Maharashtra Legislature complex.

Fadnavis will be Maharashtra’s youngest chief minister after Sharad Pawar, who was 38 when he took charge in 1978, and the second Brahmin to preside over the state after the Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi.

Fadnavis, who took to politics when he was barely 22 years old, pledged to provide good governance - a la Narendra Modi.

“I assure the people of Maharashtra that we will make efforts to take Maharashtra forward the way (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi has given good governance and is guiding the country on the path of development,” said Fadnavis, who is married to bank manager Amruta and father of a teenaged daughter, Divija.

Informed sources said the BJP leadership decided after days of internal deliberations that Fadnavis would be the best bet to lead the party in the state after it came on top of a fractured electoral verdict.

Fadnavis is likely to be sworn in at a public ceremony at the Wankhede Stadium to be attended by Modi, Shah, BJP chief ministers and over 30,000 guests.

Hailing from Nagpur, the 1970-born Fadnavis has strong Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) connections that helped him overcome the challenge to his leadership, including by mentor and central minister Nitin Gadkari.