After weeks of political twists and turns, Uddhav Thackeray, son of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, was sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra by governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari on Thursday evening.
Thackeray will head a government that will include ministers from Sharad Pawar’s NCP as well as the Congress. The three parties formed an alliance after the Shiv Sena ended its 30-year-long tie-up with the BJP over a disagreement over the post of chief minister of the state.
Thackeray is not a member of either House of the state legislature and will have to get elected to either the legislative assembly or council within six months.
A Shiv Sena leader told HuffPost India that Thackeray may choose to become an MLC as his son Aaditya has already been elected as an MLA.
Six other ministers, two each from Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, were also sworn in at a grand ceremony at the historic Shivaji Park in Mumbai. The function was attended by Sharad Pawar, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, DMK chief M.K.Stalin, Congress leader Ahmed Patel, farmers’ leader Raju Shetti, outgoing Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, MNS chief Raj Thackeray and many others.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had been personally invited for the ceremony by Aaditya Thackeray, sent a congratulatory message to Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat.
“The events leading up to the government formation in Maharashtra have set a dangerous precedent for our democracy. I am glad that Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance) has come together to defeat the BJP”s attempt to undermine our democracy,” he wrote in the letter.
The six ministers who took oath along with Thackeray were NCP state president Jayant Patil and senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, Shiv Sena leaders Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai and Congress’s Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut.
Thackeray took the oath of office after a dramatic week in Maharashtra politics in which Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit first broke away from NCP and extended support to BJP. Early on 23 November, Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the state’s chief minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi used his special powers to revoke the President’s rule in Maharashtra on the intervening night of November 22 and 23.
But Sharad Pawar brutally cut short his nephew’s rebellion and the second Fadnavis government lasted only for 80 hours.
Ajit Pawar, who has since claimed that he never left the BJP, was also present at the swearing-in ceremony of the new government.
Earlier on Thursday, Ajit was rumoured to be in the running for the post of deputy CM but the NCP soon made it clear that he is not among the two NCP ministers who would be taking the oath.
Thackeray is likely to face the floor test in the state assembly on November 30.