PHADNIS, NANA (1742-1800). Born Balaji Janardhan, he occupied the post of phadnis, or accountant, to the Maratha state on the death of his father in 1756. He was dismissed in 1761 but reinstated in 1768. Nana Phadnis controlled the public purse, combined the duties of administrator and spy-master, and came to be the de facto chief minister after the Peshwaship was briefly usurped by Raghoba, brother of the deceased Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao, and then occupied by a minor. Nana Phadnis gradually supplanted members of a regency council of "twelve brothers" established in 1774 and concentrated power in his own hands.
During the next twenty years the Marathas maintained their power and territory through a partnership between the brilliant military commander Mahadji Sindhia, who operated in the north, and Nana Phadnis, who shrewdly maneuvered through the conflicts between Hyderabad, Mysore, and the East India Company in the south. Though Raghoba enlisted British assistance for his claims and precipitated the first Anglo-Maratha War, it was concluded with the British restoring Maratha territories and abandoning Raghoba at the Treaty of Salbai, in 1782. However, Nana Phadnis did not share Mahadji Sindhia's appreciation of the extent of the British threat and the need to train a modern Maratha army. Their partnership was marred by friction and mistrust between unlike temperaments.
Nana Phadnis was loyal to the young Peshwa but did not recognize the limits to his own power. When death removed his caution and sagacity from Maratha councils, the confederacy was left open to dissension and defeat by the British.
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