Month after results, Uddhav Thackeray takes oath as Maharashtra CM

Members of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi celebrate after Uddhav Thackeray took oath as chief minister, at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on Thursday | Photo: Kamlesh Pednekar
The iconic Shivaji Park in Mumbai is the birthplace of Shiv Sena and the playground of generations of cricket players, including Sachin Tendulkar. On Thursday evening, 

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray began his innings here as chief minister of Maharashtra, cementing a new non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government in the country.

 Over a month after results of the Assembly elections were declared on October 24, Thackeray was sworn in amid joyous victory chants by party supporters and sound of tutari  (a traditional musical instrument) on a specially crafted stage with a fort-like decor and a statue of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji. 

Six other ministers (Eknath Desai and Subhash Desai from the Sena, Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal from the Nationalist Congress Party and Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut from the Congress) were also sworn in by Governor B S Koshiyari.

 Thackeray, who is not a member of either House of state legislature and the first from his family to assume a position of power, formed an unlikely alliance, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi, with the Congress and the NCP to assume power. 

Later, Thackeray held his first Cabinet meeting at Sahyadri Guest House. After the meeting, the new chief minister said his government will announce a big decision for giving relief to farmers in the state in two days. 

He said the first decision of the Cabinet was to approve Rs 20 crore for conserving Raigad Fort, which was the capital of Shivaji. “We can paint a better picture if we know the reality. We have sought inputs. Farmers have not got anything, but only assurances. We want to provide concrete help to farmers,” he told reporters after the meeting.

“We want to ensure an atmosphere in the state wherein nobody will feel terrorised,” he said.

The swearing-in ceremony was graced by central leaders of both allies, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, DMK leader 

M K Stalin, and many others.  NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who played a key in role in stitching together the alliance, came along with daughter Supriya Sule and nephew Ajit Pawar, who rebelled to help prop up the 80-hour government of Devendra Fadnavis only to return to his family later. 

Mukesh Ambani, along with his wife Neeta, and Kumar Mangalam Birla represented India Inc at the event.

Thackeray, the third from his party to occupy the post, had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the event but they skipped it. They, 
however, sent him congratulatory messages.

In her letter to Thackeray, Gandhi said: “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.”

Modi congratulated the new chief minister in a tweet, saying, “I am confident he will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra.”

Fadnavis attended the event, along with the BJP’s state unit President Chandrakant Patil. Thackeray’s estranged cousin Raj, who runs the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, attended, too, and his presence drew applause among the crowd. 

Thousands of party workers from the three allies thronged at the venue, which was dotted with Sena’s and Congress’ flags. Farmers from across the state were invited for the event to indicate the alliance's seriousness to resolve the agrarian distress.

 “We are very happy to see Uddhav saheb being sworn in as chief minister and the saffron flag being unfurled in the state,” said a Sena activist who came from Konkan region.  Dressed in a saffron kurta, Thackeray paid obeisance to Chhatrapati Shivaji, and his father and Sena founder Bal Thackeray, while Congress and NCP leaders credited Pawar and Gandhi for the tie-up.

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