Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday evening took oath as the 19th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the Shivaji Park in Mumbai.
The six other ministers - Eknath Shinde and Siddharth Desai of the Shiv Sena, Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP and Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut of the Congress - have also sworn in along with him.
With the newly formed government of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, an alliance of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress, sworn in, the curtains have been brought down for now on a month-long drama after the results of the Maharashtra elections were announced.
PM Narendra Modi was among the first to congratulate the new Maharashtra CM. "Congratulations to Uddhav Thackeray Ji on taking oath as the CM of Maharashtra. I am confident he will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra," he tweeted.
DMK chief MK Stalin, DMK leader TR Baalu, Congress leader Ahmed Patel and NCP leader Praful Patel attended Uddhav Thackeray's swearing-in along with other leaders of the three parties.
Uddhav has now joined the league of eight leaders - including Sharad Pawar - who became Maharashtra Chief Minister without being a member of either the state Legislative Assembly or Council.
मी उद्धव बाळासाहेब ठाकरे... pic.twitter.com/rgbiHoFzlX— Office of Uddhav Thackeray (@OfficeofUT) November 28, 2019
Tussle over Deputy CM's post continues
The day was not without political arm-twisting by various leaders in the NCP as well as the Congress. The end result: NCP kept the post of Deputy Chief Minister while the Congress prevented one of its leaders from taking oath as minister.
The mini drama played out after a message heralding a new era of cooperation in Maharashtra politics at the start of Thursday. Posters featuring Bal Thackeray and Indira Gandhi together sprung up near Shiv Sena Bhawan. Hoardings welcoming the new government in Maharashtra and party flags of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP were seen on the stretch from Dadar TT to Shivaji Park.
But the mystery around who will be the Deputy CM lingered. Senior NCP leader Praful Patel had said on Wednesday that his party will arrive at a decision after overnight deliberations. That did not happen.
All that emerged was confirmation that Chhagan Bhujbal and Jayant Patil will be the ministers to be sworn in from the NCP. This once again led to speculation on whether Ajit Pawar will be denied the Deputy Chief Minister's chair.
When asked, the younger Pawar insisted to mediapersons that while he won't take oath as Minister on Thursday, he will not let go of his claim to be Deputy CM. This thickened the cloud of mystery and indicated the fierce political battle within the NCP for the post.
Insiders say that while Sharad Pawar wants to punish Ajit for violating party discipline, the younger Pawar's supporters within the party are hell-bent on seeing their leader as Deputy CM.
In fact, several of these supporters had gathered at the YB Chavan centre in South Mumbai on Wednesday evening as senior party leaders got together to finalise the structure of the government. These supporters also shouted slogans demanding Ajit Pawar be made the Deputy CM while Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel were leaving the venue.
Locals to get huge preference in jobs
Earlier on Thursday, the alliance in its Common Minimum Programme (CMP) said the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state would waive off farmers' loans and ensure 80 per cent quota in jobs to local/domicile youth.
NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Nawab Malik and Sena leader Eknath Shinde announced the proposals at a media briefing.
The programme also proposes one rupee clinics across the state, which will provide basic screening of people across the state, they said.
The Sena's most discussed promise during the Assembly poll campaign of offering a full meal at Rs 10 also figures in the CMP.
(With PTI inputs)