Capping off a series of startling political events of the past 10 days, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered the oath of office to Eknath Sambhaji Shinde as the 20th Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis as the Deputy CM, here on Thursday evening.
The oath-taking ceremony came a day after former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray resigned his post in the wake of a major rebellion in the Shiv Sena legislators that led to the collapse of the 31-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
Eknath Shinde is reported to have support of 40 Shiv Sena MLAs and 10 independents, which would mean he enjoys over two-thirds majority in the Shiv Sena legislature party that has a total of 55 MLAs. The Shinde-led faction of Shiv Sena has been upset with the way Uddhav Thackeray allied with NCP-Congress to form the MVA coalition government. They have asserted that they are the real Shivsainiks of Bal Thackeray and do not want any compromise with Hindutva. They had demanded that Uddhav Thackeray walk out of the MVA and revive ties with former partner BJP.
But after Uddhav resigned ahead of a floor test scheduled for today, the BJP initially decided to support a minority government headed by Shinde from outside. Later, following directives of the BJP top brass, Fadnavis – former two-time CM – agreed to join the new regime as the No. 2 and Deputy CM.
The two-member cabinet will be expanded soon with more MLAs inducted as ministers from the Shinde group of Shiv Sena and the BJP.
While calling on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari along with Eknath Shinde in the afternoon, Devendra Fadnavis said, “We have submitted a list of entire BJP MLAs, the group led by Shindeji, 16 Independents and others, with more still joining us, to the Governor.”
Fadnavis pointed out how in the MVA rule, Hindutva and Veer Savarkar were insulted daily, and on the last day in office, the cabinet took decision to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv.
“After the Governor’s letter (on floor test), the CM Uddhav Thackeray should have not held any cabinet meeting… We (however) support the renaming decisions,” he said.
Fadnavis also noted that despite around 170 legislators getting elected after the BJP-Sena contested the 2019 elections jointly, the Sena decided to join the NCP-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance.
“In such circumstances, Shinde, who is the Sena party group leader, took a firm resolve to break the alliance with NCP-Congress. Instead of taking cognisance of the MLAs’ sentiments, Thackeray followed the NCP-Congress,” he added.
Shinde said he would work for the progress and development of the state “which had practically halted since the past 30 months of the previous government”, and reiterated that he would follow the ideals of Bahasaheb Thackeray’s Hindutva. Shinde expressed gratitude to the 51 MLAs for standing behind a humble leader like him amid all the big names, and assured that he would do the best of his abilities for taking the state ahead.
Maharashtra has gone through some dark days in the last 2 years, ranging from the inept handling of the Covid pandemic, to a free rein to Islamists and jailing of ordinary citizens for expressing their legitimate opinions on social media. Infrastructure projects like the Mumbai metro came to a grinding halt and ran into huge cost and time overruns due to vested activist groups with connections to the left-secular lobby.
It’s about time that one of the economic powerhouse states of Bharat came back on track.
(With IANS inputs)