In Maharashtra, and arguably across the country, the state is increasingly identified with real estate. Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan tells a story of how passing any legislation to regulate land transactions is an onerous task. Once, Chavan attempted to change land rules with respect to multi-storey parking and higher floor space index (FSI) in Mumbai with the aim of ushering in greater transparency. There was total silence in the Cabinet meeting when the proposal was mooted. “Some of my Cabinet colleagues looked at me as if I was committing a sin,” recalls Chavan.

A fortnight ago, in this very column, I wrote an open letter to the chief minister of Maharashtra. In the past, I have written open letters to Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Raj Thackeray and many others: None of them have chosen to reply. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when Devendra Fadnavis took the trouble of replying in some detail to the questions raised over governance issues.

Dear Devendraji,

Firstly, I wish to thank you for replying to my open letter and creating space for a public debate. This is a sign of a truly healthy democracy and is rare for a politician in this day and age. I truly appreciate that a big politician chooses to reply to a humble columnist: doesn't happen too often in an age where the media is a soft target. However, while I do not wish this to become a tu to main main, I must reserve the right to reply.

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