New Delhi, June 30
Ten days after he led a group of supporters to help the BJP bring down the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Agadi curated by none other than NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde was on Thursday appointed the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
If that wasn’t surprising enough, anticipated Chief Minister, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, took the oath as the Deputy Chief Minister of the state he earlier headed.
This after BJP chief JP Nadda, minutes before the swearing-in ceremony, announced that Fadnavis should be a part of the government headed by Shinde to fulfil the aspirations of the people, leading to a whole lot of speculations, including that perhaps the former CM was “upset” with the decision to anoint Shinde at the top post.
“The BJP’s central leadership has decided that Devendra Fadnavis should become a part of the government. So, I have made a personal request to him that he should take charge as Deputy CM of Maharashtra,” Nadda said.
Soon, Home Minister Amit Shah also tweeted saying that at the behest of Nadda Fadnavis has decided to join the government “showing a big heart” and as a “sign of true loyalty towards Maharashtra and its people”.
Earlier, while assuring all support to Shinde, Fadnavis told mediapersons that he will remain out of the government. “After the swearing-in ceremony, we will have a Cabinet expansion and Shiv Sena and BJP leaders will take the oath. I will stay out of the government,” said Fadnavis, taking by surprise even state BJP leaders who had been waiting for a BJP government in the state since two and a half years.
Shinde and Fadnavis were administered the oath of secrecy by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari at a ceremony in Raj Bhawan.
Earlier, taking on former CM Uddhav Thackeray, Fadnavis said in the 2019 Assembly elections the BJP and the Shiv Sena contested together and got complete majority. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced the name of the Chief Minister (Fadnavis) during the election campaign. However, Shiv Sena chose to go with those against whom (Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray protested throughout his life.
“Shiv Sena formed an alliance with those who are against Hindutva and insulted the mandate of the people. On one hand, Shiv Sena opposed Dawood (Ibrahim) and on the other hand, they kept such a man in the Cabinet who went to jail on allegations of helping Dawood. They were in alliance with someone who insulted Savarkar,” he said.
Claiming that most Sena MLAs were demanding that the alliance with Congress and NCP should be ended, Fadnavis said Thackeray ignored them and gave priority to MVA alliance partners and ran a “corrupt and incompetent government in past two and a half years”.
Assuring that he will not break the trust of those who supported him all this while, Shinde thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda while expressing special gratitude to Fadnavis for his “generosity”.
“They have chosen Balasaheb’s Shiv Sainik as CM despite having as many as 120 MLAs,” he said.
Calling BJP-Shiv Sena a “natural alliance”, Shinde said they tried telling this to Uddhav Thackeray. “This is not about power, it is about the Hindutva ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray,” Shinde said.
Shinde, who arrived in Mumbai from Goa on Thursday afternoon, met Fadnavis at his office, both heading for the Raj Bhavan along with several BJP leaders. Together the Shinde faction and BJP have the support of around 170 MLAs.