MUMBAI: Exactly five weeks after Maharashtra elections threw up a hung Assembly and made Mumbai the epicentre of an intense political drama, Uddhav Bal Thackeray was sworn in on Thursday as chief minister at the iconic Shivaji Park in Dadar. A small Cabinet comprising six ministers — two each from the three allies — was also sworn in by Governor BS Koshyari. The ones who made it are Shiv Sena legislature party leader Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai; NCP legislature party leader Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal; and Congress legislature party leader Balasaheb Thorat and Dr Nitin Raut.
While Bhujbal has earlier worked as deputy chief minister and had handled home and other important portfolios, Jayant Patil has hands-on experience as finance minister. Thorat was revenue minister in Prithviraj Chavan’s Cabinet while Dr Raut was minister for water supply. Shiv Sena’s Shinde was health and PWD minister in the Fadnavis cabinet while Desai handled the industries department.
While the Cabinet is loaded with experience, the only one who does not have administrative experience is Uddhav himself. After the ceremony, the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi got down to business, holding a coordination meeting of the allies. Uddhav, then, held his first Cabinet meeting, which took two decisions, one of which was to allot `20 crore for the conservation of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s capital in Raigad Fort. It was seen as tokenism to appease the Shiv Sena cadre.
The real big decision to give ample relief to farmers will be announced in a couple of days. Uddhav said he has asked the chief secretary for details on all schemes being implemented for the welfare of farmers.
“You may call it a white paper or whatever. I said that I want to know the truth. We have seen while touring Maharashtra that farmers are getting little assistance. We are committed to change the picture. Once I get the information, we shall take decisions,” he told the media.
At the Aghadi meeting, sources said the issue of Ajit Pawar, who has been insisting on the deputy chief minister’s post, was possibly discussed, but it could not be confirmed. Ajit had jumped ship and joined hands with the BJP, which gave him the deputy CM post. He, however, returned after finding no traction within the NCP and is pushing hard for his honourable rehabilitation.
Maha hopes for political stability
Meanwhile, by taking oath as the Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray joined the league of Congress leaders A R Antulay, Vasantdada Patil, Shivajirao Nilangekar-Patil, Shankarrao Chavan, Sushilkumar Shinde and Prithviraj Chavan. He has become the 8th CM of Mahrashtra who was not member of any of the houses of the state legislature while being sworn in as the CM.
He will now have to get elected to either of the house of the state legislature within next six months.
Uddhav (59) has never contested any election ever yet, though he has been among the key electoral strategists for his party for around two decades. He is also the first of his family to assume any public office. His father Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena over five decades ago. Since then, the party has been an active player in Maharashtra politics, and even had two of its leaders become chief minister. But, no Thackeray had ever assumed any public post. Uddhav broke the tradition by becoming the Chief Minister.
Shiv Sena had its first CM in 1995. Senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi, who later also became Lok Sabha speaker, was Shiv Sena’s first CM. After charges of corruption, Joshi was replaced with Narayan Rane in 1999. It is after 20 years now that the party is getting its own man in the chair again.
With Uddhav becoming chief miniter, Maharashtra can finally look at some politically stability in the state.
People expect the alliance to provide cohesive, purposeful, responsible, responsive and transparent administrationSonia GandhiCongress chief
Ajit not in for now
The ‘will he, won’t he’ guessing game on Ajit Pawar’s entry into the Cabinet as Dy CM continued as he did not take oath. His loyalists are pressuring Sharad Pawar to give him the slot
Chavan misses the bus
He was so near to a cabinet berth and yet so far. The Congress dropped former CM Ashok Chavan from the list after the ED started sniffing into the Adarsh society scam again
Ex-CMs, Stalin present
Sharad Pawar, Manohar Joshi, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Devendra Fadnavis, all of them ex-CMs, attended. Also present was DMK boss M K Stalin