Life and times of Amruta Devendra Fadnavis

Profile of the Maharashtra CM’s wife.
By Sharvari A Joshi
On 15 November 2015, it was a usual working day at RTO, Nagpur. A woman walked into the premises as she wanted to renew her driving licence. She took the application form, filled it in and waited for her turn in the long queue. As her turn came, she submitted all the required documents, completed the photo formalities and paid the fees. As she was about to leave the place, the officer on duty checked her name… and… he bounced high up in the air from his chair. The name on the application form read

‘Mrs Amruta Devendra Fadnavis’.

The officer reported the incident – “Oh my goodness! She is ‘The Amruta Fadnavis’… the First Lady of Maharashtra… wife of recently sworn-in Chief Minister Mr Devendra Fadnavis!”

“As I came to terms with the situation, so many thoughts gathered simultaneously in my mind and I rushed to apologise to her for not knowing her by face and to keep her waiting in the queue. Suddenly the ‘mahoul’ of the office changed into a thrilling wave. Everybody there was so amazed to see her as a normal citizen, without any bombastic behaviour.

Unusual behaviours

“Like any other government office, employees here too are not used to see such ‘high profile’ people standing in a queue and behave like the ‘aam janata’! They have always been asked for some distinct discretion by such people. But this incident made us realise how grounded one can be even if she is the chief minister’s wife.”

Mrs Amruta Devendra Fadnavis – a Nagpur girl comes from a medical background as both of her parents are practising doctors. Her mother Dr Charu Ranande is a gynaecologist, and father Dr Sharad Ranade is an ophthalmologist. Amruta her schooling in St Joseph’s Convent School, Nagpur. After completing graduation in Commerce, she did her MBA in marketing and finance. She has also acquired a PG diploma in taxation from the famous Symbiosis Institute, Pune. She then joined Axis Bank as an executive and got posted in Nagpur.

When WE asked her about her marriage and life after that, her enthusiasm was obvious as she told us about the fond memories of her first meeting with Devendra Fadnavis and then their marriage.

“Ours was a small close-knit family of four, my parents, my younger brother and me. Neither were we interested nor were we very much aware of the political proceedings of the times and hence knew Deven (as he is fondly called by his near and dear ones) only through newspapers,” says Amruta.

“In fact, I had nurtured a not so good image about politicians. I am very happy to acknowledge that Deven had always proven my preconceptions about politicians wrong,” she adds.

About their first meeting, she recollects, “One of our common family friends had told us about Deven who also belongs to Nagpur, his academic excellence and his family background. My parents got convinced about this proposal. So, they arranged for our first meeting at a friend’s house who happens to be our common friend. In our very first encounter, I found Deven to be a discerning, genuine person. “

Her radiant cheeks turn rosy as she adds, “It was my birthday and Deven greeted me with a red rose.”

After their first meeting, they met three-four times socially and then decided to go ahead with marriage. Both the families were excited about this alliance. Amruta and Devendra got married on 17 November 2005.

For a working lady, we understand the time constraint she goes through while managing both the fronts, home and office. As her husband is a high- profile politician and now the chief minister, the situation may become byzantine since politicians have 48 working hours in a day.

Amruta seems to have resigned herself to the circumstances and is keen to seek some pragmatic solutions through time management and outsourcing help.

“Get the right people fixed at the right place. You need not do the entire task single-handedly”. This is her success mantra for the modern working women.

Similarly, she accepts that she has to pay a lot for being the wife of such a man whom she knew will never be able to spend sufficient time with her and the family.

Amruta says, “In all our meetings before marriage, Deven had made it clear to me that his would be a very hectic schedule. I am reconciled to that and have never demanded his time. You may not believe it but we haven’t watched a movie together since Lagaan. Whatever little time we have together, is precious to me. But whenever I need him, I believe he will be there for me, as I would be for him”.

After marriage, Amruta was seen by the society not merely as the executive of Axis Bank but a blessed bahu of an eminent political family. She never tried to present herself as the stereotype politico wife and always maintained that she would like to be seen as an independent working lady of modern times.

“I never felt the pressure of being married into a political family. My husband and my mother-in law were and still are comfortable with me continuing with my job. In fact, after my daughter Divija’s birth when I once came across the thought of leaving my job, Deven insisted that I should ponder over my inclination towards quitting the job. He also asked me what I will be doing after our daughter has grown up. I agreed with his opinion of not quitting and continued with my work. I am always grateful to him for this suggestion.”

As of now, Amruta has to shift her base from Nagpur to Mumbai. Being the CM of Maharashtra, her husband has to live there and hence she requested her office headquarters for a transfer to Mumbai.

Her colleagues told us about her first day at her office.

‘In a smart black formal suit with no posse of security officers, on 14th of January 2015, she joined the Lower Parel, Mumbai Branch office, treasury department, as any other employee. She also refused to occupy a separate enclosure, which she thought would unnecessarily set her apart from the others in the office, and restricted her security cover to just one protection officer.’

Changed life

Her life has changed remarkably after coming to Mumbai. Besides her office schedule, she is always busy with one or the other guests to attend at home, with promotion of social causes, attending cultural event and nonetheless, accompanying her six- year-old daughter where ever needed. She also told us that she is willing to form a foundation which will start work on female infanticide and support girl child education, etc.

When WE asked her about her prospects in politics, she modestly refused and reiterated, “I don’t think I would ever join politics. Yes, I feel grateful if I can help people. In my views, not only power but the passion for some cause and empathy towards people is needed to do some good job to society. I feel that being the First Lady of Maharashtra, my responsibility towards people has increased. They have great expectations from me.”

Besides the above engagements, music is Amruta’s passion. She has taken lessons in Indian classical vocal music from the late Rajhans Guruji. She loves to sing gazals, bhajans and light classical songs. She loves dancing and whenever there are office parties, she enjoys dancing to popular Bollywood dance numbers. Though an atheist by disposition, she is not a ritualistic believer. Yoga is another hobby for which she is ecstatic about. “It helps you keep level headed even in crucial situations,” giggles Amruta.

Need to be interactive

Being in the public eye every moment, she has to be interactive and manage her contacts well. Her social media accounts tell the story of a woman conversant with the latest tools of public relations. Her Facebook account has more than 18,000 followers.

As she is looked upon as the role model of today’s career-driven women, Amruta is very proud of herself being a working lady. She refuses to accept the typical vahini (bhabhiji, politician’s wife) sort of image. She doesn’t want to be identified only as the CM’s wife who basks in the glory of her husband’s paramount position. At the same time she opines that she has great respect for homemaker ladies. She tells us how her homemaker mother-in-law Mrs Sarita Fadnavis has brought up her two sons after the untimely demise of her husband, late Gangadharrao Fadnavis.

Her comparison in media with former CMs’ wives disappoints her.

She says, “Their time was different. Things have changed now. We should not explore ourselves merely in the shadow of our husbands.”