All roadblocks cleared, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray is all set to take oath as the chief minister of Maharashtra tomorrow at Mumbai’s sprawling Shivaji Park. While no decision has yet been taken on who will be Thackeray’s deputy or deputies, names of Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat and NCP’s Jayant Patil have been doing the rounds.
After staking claim to form the government last evening, Uddhav Thackeray along with his wife Rashmi met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari at Raj Bhavan this morning.
The Sena chief will lead the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress) government after Devendra Fadnavis resigned as Chief Minister soon after Ajit Pawar’s exit from the newly formed BJP government.
“I had never dreamed of leading the state. I would like to thank (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi and others,” Uddhav Thackeray had said on Tuesday evening.
While the three alliance partners were busy ironing out their ideological differences and discussing power share, Ajit Pawar, who was part of these meetings, went to Fadnavis and promised 54 NCP MLAs to the BJP.
With 105 MLAs of its own and 54 from the NCP, the BJP comfortably crossed the majority mark in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly.
Accordingly, President’s rule was revoked at 5.47 am on Saturday and a quick oath ceremony was arranged at the Raj Bhavan. Visuals of Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar’s unannounced swearing in gave a jolt to the new coalition which then approached the Supreme Court.
After an urgent hearing on Sunday, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Devendra Fadnavis to prove his majority within 24 hours. The trust vote had to be telecast live, the court said.
“If the floor test is delayed, there is a possibility of horse trading. An immediate floor test might be the most effective mechanism to do so,” the court had said.
But all NCP MLAs, who had apparently sided with Ajit Pawar, had by now returned to his uncle and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, forcing rebel Pawar to resign and leading to the collapse of the three-day-old BJP government.
Meanwhile, he was persuaded to return to the family. Sharad Pawar has, in fact, forgiven his nephew, party leader Nawab Malik said today.
“In the end, he admitted his mistake. It is a family matter and Pawar sahib has forgiven him. He is very much in the party and his position in the party has not changed,” Mr Malik told reporters.
This morning, Ajit Pawar had a grand “ghar wapsi” or homecoming when he received a warm hug from his cousin Supriya Sule as she welcomed NCP MLAs before their oath in the Maharashtra assembly this morning.
The MLAs were sworn in over a month since the Maharashtra election results in which no party won a majority. The Supreme Court had on Tuesday ordered the Governor to arrange their oath immediately and appoint a pro-tem or interim Speaker for the proceedings. Interim Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar, who was appointed last evening, administered oath to the MLAs.
The allocation of ministries in the new Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition will be decided in a couple of days, party sources said.