MUMBAI – Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray was on Thursday sworn in Maharashtra chief minister, heading an unlikely alliance with the Congress and NCP.
The 59-year-old is the third Sena leader and first from the Thackeray family to occupy the post. His father Bal Thackeray wielded the ‘remote control’ over the first Sena-BJP government during 1995-99 but never assumed a position in the government.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari administered oath to the saffron-clad Thackeray and six ministers at the sprawling Shivaji Park here, venue of the Sena’s Dussehra rallies.
Those present at the ceremony included NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Mallikarjun Kharge, MNS chief Raj Thackeray and DMK leader MK Stalin.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was among those invited but she wasn’t present. She sent congratulatory messages to Uddhav and MPCC chief Balasaheb Thorat, who was among the six ministers sworn in.
“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,” Gandhi’s letter said.
In a letter to Thorat, Gandhi expressed confidence that the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena combine will provide a stable and responsive government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Uddhav Thackeray on taking oath as the CM of Maharashtra. “I am confident he will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra,” Modi tweeted.
Thackeray took oath as chief minister over a month after results of the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections were declared on October 24.
Eknath Shinde, Subhash Desai (both Shiv Sena), Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal (both NCP), Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut (both Congress) were sworn in as ministers.
Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, his cousin and MP Supriya Sule, Uddhav’s wife Rashmi, his MLA-son Aaditya, industrialist Mukesh Ambani, his wife Nita and son Anant were also present at the ceremony.
The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress formed the government after the Thackeray-led party fell out with pre-poll ally BJP over sharing the chief ministerial post.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party winning 105 seats. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress won 56, 54 and 44 seats respectively in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
Thursday’s swearing in ceremony came after days of dramatic political developments, which included a three-day government formed by BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis with unexpected support from NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who has since returned to the Sharad Pawar-led party fold.
There was speculation that Ajit Pawar would be sworn in as deputy chief minister on Thursday but only two ministers from the NCP took oath at the ceremony.
A special session of the 14th state Assembly was held here on Wednesday where oath was administered to 285 newly- elected members by pro tem Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar who was appointed to the post by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Uddhav Thackeray is the 19th CM of Maharashtra.
However, considering the number of terms, he is the 29th chief minister of the state.
An ace photographer, the otherwise affable, mild- mannered politician, displayed combative traits of his father in dealing with the BJP on the demand for rotational chief ministership just after Assembly poll results were announced.
In rallies, Uddhav had repeatedly voiced his resolve to fulfil the dream of his father to make a Shiv Sainik the chief minister, and ended up donning the mantle himself.
Hours before the swearing in ceremony, the Shiv Sena- NCP-Congress alliance said the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state would waive farmers’ loans and ensure 80 per cent quota in jobs to the local youth.
NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Nawab Malik and Sena leader Eknath Shinde announced details of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the alliance.
Sena’s most discussed promise during the Assembly poll campaign — a full meal at Rs 10 — also figures in the CMP.
From professional lensman to CM, Uddhav comes a long way
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray, sworn-in on Thursday as the 18th Chief Minister of Maharashtra, faces the biggest test of his life as the leader of an ideologically divergent alliance that took charge at a time of momentous political changes in the state.
An ace photographer, he is the third Sena Chief Minister, after Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane (both in 1990s), and the first member of the Thackeray family to hold the top post in the country’s richest state.
Thackeray, 59, otherwise considered an affable, mild- mannered politician, displayed combative traits of his father, Sena founder Bal Thackeray, in dealing with one-time senior ally BJP on the demand for rotational chief ministership just after assembly poll results were announced on October 24.
He stood his ground and refused to budge on the issue of splitting the chief ministership, a stand that eventually led to the collapse of the three-decade old saffron alliance.
After outmaneuvering the BJP, Thackeray will now have to prove his credentials as a leader who can navigate a new political path with ideologically different parties like the Congress and the NCP, partners in the Sena-led ruling coalition, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA).
Though in politics for long, Thackeray has never contested an election or held a public post and it will be interesting to watch how he learns the ropes of governance in a state which is an economic powerhouse and home to the financial capital of the country.
The Sena, a party identified with Hindutva politics and “anti-Congressism” since its inception, has entered a new phase where it will have to chart out a new course under Thackeray in the changed political scenario.
Born on July 27, 1960 in Mumbai, Thackeray studied at Balmohan Vidyamandir and later graduated from the JJ School of Arts, where photography was his main subject.
Besides being a published author, he is also a professional photographer whose work has appeared in various magazines and has been showcased at numerous exhibitions.
Thackeray largely lived in the shadows of his legendary father before coming on his own after being appointed the Sena working president in January 2003.
Thackeray formally took over as the chief of the Sena, founded in 1966 to fight for the rights of Marathi people, after his father died in 2012.
Known for his passion for photography, he started out in the advertising field by setting up an agency called ‘Chaurang’. Thackeray specialises in aerial and wildlife photography.
He has two photo books to his credit, ‘Maharashtra Desh’ (2010) on the forts of the state, and ‘Pahava Vitthal’ (2011) on the Pandharpur wari (on pilgrimage to the temple town of Pandharpur).
‘Maharashtra Desh’ is full of breathtaking aerial shots, providing a glimpse into the cultural fabric, physical beauty and historical perspective of this wondrous state.
A few years ago, he organised an exhibition of his photographs and Rs 10 lakh collected from their sale was donated for farmer causes.
Like former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, who started out in politics by helping his mother Indira Gandhi, Thackeray began assisting his father at a time when the firebrand Sena patriarch was aging and the party’s sphere was expanding.
He focused on strengthening the organisation and encouraged cadres to take up issues of farmers in the suicide- prone districts of rural Maharashtra.
Thackeray sought to make the Sena, known for street politics and aggressive stand on issues of public interest, more acceptable to people outside its core voter base.
After completing his journey from ‘Matoshree’, the Thackeray home in suburban Bandra, to ‘Varsha’, the CM residence in south Mumbai, the Sena leader will have to reinvent himself, according to political observers.
He will now have to display flexibility and political acumen to deal with new-found allies and keep the coalition government going for five years, they said.
“Despite being in government, the three parties are independent entities and would want to expand their respective political base,” the observers said.
“A political affairs committee would be needed to identify constituencies where the Sena and the Congress-NCP are in direct contest with each other and prevail upon the local leadership to work out an arrangement where political base of the three parties remains unaffected,” a senior Congress leader said.
While Thackeray has shown political sagacity and maturity till now, he will also have to deal with an aggressive BJP in the opposition knowing very well the former ally will try to make functioning for his government difficult, the observers said.
“Uddhav will have to keep his flock of MLAs together,” they said.
Over 20 years ago, Thackeray was seen as a ‘reluctant’ politician, living a cosy life with his wife Rashmi and sons Aaditya (now an MLA) and Tejas at ‘Matoshree’.
But now that he has taken plunge into governance and managing a disparate coalition, a slew of challenges await Thackeray, who will be one of the most closely watched politicians in the country in these media-driven times.
Since the Sena leader is currently not a legislator, he will have to get elected either to the legislative assembly or the council within six months of taking oath.
PM congratulates Uddhav on being sworn in Maha CM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday congratulated Uddhav Thackeray on taking oath as Maharashtra chief minister, saying he is confident that the Shiv Sena chief will work diligently for the bright future of the state.
“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,” Modi tweeted.
Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony follows days of dramatic political developments in Maharashtra, which included a three-day BJP-led government being formed in the state with unexpected support from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar.
Pawar has since returned to the Sharad Pawar-led party fold.
Uddhav Thackeray holds first cabinet meeting as CM
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held his first cabinet meeting at Sahyadri Guest House here after taking oath of office on Thursday evening.
Shiv Sena ministers Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai, Congress ministers Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut and NCP ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Jayant Patil were seen arriving at the venue of the meeting in south Mumbai.
Thackeray heads the `Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi’ of three parties.
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