Mee Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray… takes oath as the 24th CM of Maharashtra to rapturousc cheers and firecrackers. He had made a promise to his father that he would be sworn-in as CM at Shivaji Park.
Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as Maharashtra’s new Chief Minister this evening at the sprawling Shivaji Park in Mumbai, where his father Bal Thackeray addressed his first Dussehra rally to announce the birth of the Shiv Sena in 1966. A statue of Chhattrapati Shivaji presided over the oath-taking of the first Thackeray to take office.
Uddhav Thackeray, in saffron silk kurta, bowed before the “Shivrajyabhishek” or a statue depicting the crowning of Chhatrapati Shivaji before taking oath in Marathi. His family – wife Rashmi Thackeray and son Aaditya – was on the grand fort-replica stage designed by Hindi film art director Nitin Desai.
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As the newly-formed Maha Vikas Aghadi took office, six ministers — two each from the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress — were sworn in by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Several leaders from the Sena, NCP and Congress attended the anti-BJP show of strength. Industrialist Mukesh Ambani, his wife Nita Ambani and son Anant were also seated on stage.
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Also present was Raj Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray’s estranged cousin, invited by him personally last evening.
Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who quit two days ago, also attended the oath.
So did Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, who is tipped to be Deputy Chief Minister. This is his second oath ceremony in six days; on Saturday morning, he had stunned his party when TV screens flashed visuals of him taking oath along with the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis. Four days after this shock turnabout, Ajit Pawar resigned – having failed to draw NCP MLAs to the BJP’s side – and returned to his party and family.
Mr Thackeray had yesterday invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the oath ceremony.
His son Aaditya flew to Delhi to invite Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi. None of the Congress big three attended the function but they wrote to the Sena Chief.
Thousands of Sena workers attended the oath ceremony and chanted slogans. For the first time, Sena flags shared space with flags of the NCP and Congress at the Shivaji Park.
Uddhav Thackeray is the eighth Chief Minister of Maharashtra to be sworn in despite not being a legislator. He is the third Sena Chief Minister after Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane.
In last month’s Maharashtra election, the BJP and Shiv Sena contested the polls together and won 105 and 56 seats, enough for a majority. But the Shiv Sena refused to play second fiddle and demanded rotational chief ministership.
Uddhav Thackeray then ended his alliance with the BJP, the Sena’s partner for more than 30 years, and entered into talks with the Congress and NCP, two ideologically different parties.
When they were on the verge of sealing an alliance, the BJP surprised them with an unscheduled dawn oath-taking of Devendra Fadnavis last Saturday, for which the central government was active through the night. Ajit Pawar, who took oath as Deputy Chief Minister, declared that all NCP MLAs were with him. Over the next few days, the NCP rallied its flock and managed to isolate Ajit-Dada.
Mr Fadnavis quit on Tuesday, hours after he was asked to prove his majority in a floor test “within 24 hours”.