Swearing-in at Shivaji Park; Dy CM post goes to NCP, Speaker to Cong
It will be an emotional moment for Uddhav Thackeray and a historic occasion for the Shiv Sena when he takes oath as the 19th Chief Minister of Maharashtra on Thursday evening, along with his team of Ministers from the “Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi” (MVA) at the historic Shivaji Park ground, which in many ways remained his late father Bal Thackeray’s “karma bhoomi” from the day he addressed his first-ever Dussehra rally 53 years ago and till he was cremated there seven years ago.
The first-ever Thackeray to assume a top elected position, 59-year-old Uddhav will be second-ever Shiv Sena leader — after Manohar Joshi — to be sworn in as the Chief Minister at “Shiv Thirth”, better known as Shivaji Park.
Late Thackeray, it may be recalled, had hand-picked and anointed Joshi as the first-ever Sena Chief Minister, after the Sena-BJP alliance rode to power for the first time in March 1995. It was another matter that the late Sena chief replaced Joshi with another leader Narayan Rane nearly four years later. Rane had taken oath of office at another venue.
Bal Thackeray, whose mortal remains were consigned to flames in full public view, was emotionally attached to the Shivaji Park, where he had addressed his first Dussehra rally more than four months after he founded the Shiv Sena on June 19, 1966, and went on to address Dussehra rallies there every year thereafter, barring two years.
In 2005, the Sena had cancelled the rally owing to heavy rain, while Thackeray could not make it to the October 24, 2012 Dussehra rally owing to his indisposition (but his video-recorded speech was played at that rally).
Though his party’s official mouth-piece “Saamana” which began its publication on January 23, 1988, late Thackeray had all along effectively used Shivaji Park to send across his directives to lakh of supporters across Maharashtra. His son Uddhav is carrying on with the legacy.
Having aligned with the BJP for 30-long years (except for a brief period in the run-up 2014 Assembly polls) on the Hindutva plank, Uddhav will be embarking upon a new political journey both for himself and his party, as he teams up with new “secular” partners the NCP and the Congress who are ideologically polar opposite from the Sena and whom it had over the years criticised on various issues.
He may have accomplished the promise made to his late father that he would install a Sena man as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, but Uddhav appears to have a long and an altogether different journey ahead.
At a four-hour-long meeting held at the YB Chavan Centre in south Mumbai, the leaders of MVA discussed and formalised the contours of the Uddhav-led Government ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.
At Thursday’s meeting it was decided that “one Minister or two Ministers” from each of the three constituents of the MVA will be sworn in along with Uddhav.
As per the agreement reached among the MVA partners earlier, the Sena will get 16 ministerial berths, the NCP 14 and the Congress 12.
Though it had earlier been decided that there would be two Deputy CM — one each from the NCP and the Congress — it was decided at the meeting that there would be only one Deputy CM — that too from the NCP.
Talking to media persons after the MVA leaders’ meeting, NCP leader Praful Patel said, “At the meeting, We have discussed preparations for tomorrow’s swearing-in ceremony and most of the issues relating to the Cabinet formation and also sharing of the posts of the various State-run boards and vacant posts in the State Legislative Council and Raj Sabha, etc.”
“At tomorrow’s ceremony, only one or two Ministers each from the three parties will be sworn in… Rest of the Ministers will be sworn in after Uddhav proves his vote of confidence on the Floor of the State Assembly. The Governor has given him time till December 3, to prove his majority in the State Assembly,” Patel said. NCP will be given Deputy Speaker’s post, he said.
Sources said the crucial post of the Assembly Speaker has become a major bone of contention between the Congress and the NCP. The Congress was not ready to give up the Deputy Chief Minister’s post in lieu of the Speaker’s post. The NCP was not initially ready to accept the offer. However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar agreed to let go the Speaker’s post.
Earlier, talking to media persons after the meeting, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Balasaheb Thorat said, “We had a positive meeting today. We discussed many things. But, it is not finalised yet as to how many ministers will take oath of office tomorrow.”
AICC general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Malikarjun Kharge also said, “We have sorted out most of the things (relating to Cabinet formation). There are some small things which be sorted before the Cabinet formation.”
At the MVA meeting, Uddhav, Eknath Shinde (Sena), Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal (all NCP), Kharge, Venugopal, Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan and Thorat.
Meanwhile, Sena youth leader and newly-elected MLA Aditya Thackeray flew to the national Capital in a special aircraft late in the evening to personally invite Congress president to the swearing-ceremony.
Thursday, 28 November 2019 | TN RAGHUNATHA | Mumbai
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