Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as the 19th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park on Thursday.
The 59-year-old was chosen as the chief ministerial face of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, an alliance formed by the Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). He became the first member of the Thackeray family and third Shiv Sena leader, after Narayan Rane and Manohar Joshi, to become the chief minister of the state.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath to Thackeray and six ministers. Among the six ministers were Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut, NCP’s Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal and Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai.
Those present at the ceremony included NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Mallikarjun Kharge, MNS chief Raj Thackeray and DMK leader MK Stalin. Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, his cousin and MP Supriya Sule, Uddhav's wife Rashmi, his son and Worli MLA Aaditya, industrialist Mukesh Ambani, his wife Nita and son Anant were also present at the ceremony.
Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi was not present at the ceremony, but wrote a letter to Uddhav, which read, “Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress have come together under quite extraordinary circumstances at a time when the country faces unprecedented threats from the BJP.”
Soon after being sworn-in, the chief minister was also congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who expressed confidence that he will work diligently “for the bright future of Maharashtra.” After the oath-taking ceremony, Uddhav, along with his family, offered prayers at the Siddhivinayak Temple and then went to the Sahyadri guest house to chair his first Cabinet meeting.
In a press conference after the first Cabinet meet of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced that Rs 20 crore have been sanctioned for the reconstruction of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s capital in Raigad Fort. The project, which costs Rs 600 crore, has seen an expenditure of Rs 20 crore in the past, the Shiv Sena chief said.
Promising that the alliance will Maharashtra a stable government, Thackeray said that he will check the reality of implementation of all state and Centre schemes aimed at helping farmers. “I don’t want just memorandums and announcements. I want to see the ground reality when it comes to farmers. The fact is that after the loan waiver, many didn’t get beenfits. I want to see to it that the money comes to the farmers,” he said.
Responding to Devendra Fadnavis’ criticism of the common minimum programme not having a mention of Marathwada, Vidarbha and North Maharashtra, Uddhav said that the Cabinet’s vision is for the entire state, not for a particular region. He also said that the government’ aim is to make Maharashtra the top state in the country.
Hours before the swearing-in ceremony, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance released a Common Minimum Programme in which it promised that it would waive farmers' loans and ensure 80 percent quota in jobs to the local youth. Other promises included women’s safety, a full meal at Rs 10 and elimination of social, educational and economic backwardness of the minority community.
According to the programme, two coordination committees will be constituted: one for coordination within the Maharashtra cabinet and the other for coordination among the alliance partners. NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Nawab Malik and Sena leader Eknath Shinde announced details of the programme of the alliance in a press conference.
A petition seeking a stay on the swearing-in of Uddhav as chief minister of Maharashtra was not taken up the Bombay High Court. The petitioners sought an urgent hearing of their plea, saying the Shiv Sena and BJP should have stood by their pre-poll alliance and formed government.
However, two different benches of the high court refused to take up the petition for hearing. A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dangre asked what was "unconstitutional and void" about the swearing-in ceremony of Thackeray. The petitioner's lawyer, Mathew Nedumpara, said there has been a breach of trust of the voters, who wanted the Sena and BJP to form government.
Thackeray took oath as chief minister over a month after the 21 October Maharashtra Assembly elections, the results of which were declared on 24 October, ended in a fractured mandate. The BJP and Shiv Sena’s pre-poll alliance fell through after the former did not accede to the parties’ 50:50 alliance governing the sharing of the chief ministerial post and ministers’ portfolios. As a result, the three-decade-old alliance ended.
After the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress could not form an alliance within the time given to them by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, NCP leader and former irrigation minister Ajit Pawar tossed a surprise by joining hands with then caretaker chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. On 23 November Fadnavis was sworn in as the chief minister with Ajit as his deputy.
Soon after, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea filed by the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress against the government formation in the state, ordered a floor test to be held in the Maharashtra Assembly by 27 November. However, in another twist in the tale, Ajit resigned as the deputy chief minister on 27 November and returned to the NCP fold.
The NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress then joined hands and met the governor to stake claim for government formation. A special session of the 14th state Assembly was held on Wednesday where oath was administered to 285 newly-elected members by pro tem Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar. Uddhav will now need to be elected to the legislative council or Assembly within six months of taking oath as the chief minister. Additionally, the coalition government will have to win the trust vote in the Maharashtra Assembly on or before 3 December.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party winning 105 seats. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress won 56, 54 and 44 seats respectively in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. An ace photographer, the otherwise affable, mild-mannered politician, displayed combative traits of his father in dealing with the BJP on the demand for rotational chief ministership just after Assembly poll results were announced.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 29, 2019 09:45:58 IST