Uddhav Thanks Sonia after Being Formally Picked as Maha CM Pick, Sharad Pawar Remembers Bal Thackeray

New Delhi: Uddhav Thackeray, the ministerial nominee of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine, on Tuesday night reached Raj Bhavan and staked claim to form the government in Maharashtra.

Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena, was accompanied by legislature party leaders of the three allies.

“We are submitting a joint statement of staking claim for government formation before the governor. We will also produce proof of the support of all the MLAs of the three parties to the governor as a part of the mandatory procedure,” said a Sena leader.

The development came after the alliance, at a joint meeting, announced Thackeray as its nominee for the post of the Maharashtra chief minister. The three parties named their alliance the ‘Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi’.The meeting was attended by Sharad Pawar, senior party leader Praful Patel, Congress leader Ashok Chavan, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana’s Raju Shetti, Samajwadi Party’s Abu Azmi, MLAs of all these parties and others.

The decision to elect Thackeray as nominee for CM’s post was taken at a joint meeting of the three parties at a hotel in Mumbai, hours after the three-day-old BJP government led by Devendra Fadnavis and supported by NCP’s Ajit Pawar collapsed. Ajit Pawar had earlier resigned as the deputy chief minister.

Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil proposed Thackeray’s name as “the (next) chief minister” – the proposal was seconded by state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat.

The swearing-in ceremony, which was earlier scheduled for December 1, has been brought forward — it will be held at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai on November 28. Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat said the ceremony was brought forward since MLAs have to return to their constituencies.

Thackeray, who will be the first member of his family to occupy the top political post, said his government will not seek “revenge” against anyone.

“I will go to Delhi to meet my ‘elder brother’ after the government is formed,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had called him “my younger brother” during campaign rallies.

Speaking at the meeting, Thackeray evoked memories of his father and late Sena founder Bal Thackeray. He also thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

“I want to thank Sonia ji also. Parties with different ideologies have come together. We are giving a new direction to country by keeping faith in each other. Those who were friends for 30 years did not trust us. But those against whom we fought for 30 years have trusted me,” Thackeray said.

“The fight is not personal…my government will not work in a vindictive way,” he said.

Without naming its former ally BJP with whom the Sena had a bitter split after contesting the October 21 Assembly elections together, Thackeray said he would not align with those who speak lies.

“This is an alliance of parties with divergent ideologies. This will give a new direction to the whole country. However, it should not be reduced to ‘yours’ or ‘mine’, but it should ‘our’ government. More important, the common man of the state should feel is ‘my government’ always,” Thackeray said.

Thackeray said the MVA parties did not “bend” before anybody, did not indulge in falsehoods and lying is not his brand of “Hindutva”, and now after the struggle of the past few weeks, he would concentrate on the task of administration before him.

Thackeray promised to lead an all-inclusive government which would work for the cause of the farmers, the poor, the downtrodden and marginalised sections of society and sought the cooperation of the allies in his endeavour.

Speaking on the occasion, Pawar eulogised Bal Thackeray, his bitter adversary in politics but a dear friend in personal life.

“It would have been great had Balasaheb Thackeray been alive today. We shared great love. We criticised each other a lot, but we never let go off the personal warmth,” he said.

Other leaders of different parties in the MVA also spoke and congratulated Thackeray on his election as the new chief minister and assured him of their full support in running the government.

Day of twists

The dramatic turn of events came after Devendra Fadnavis resigned earlier on Tuesday, barely 80 hours after taking oath for the second time, a move triggered by his deputy Ajit Pawar’s resignation citing “personal reasons”.

Fadnavis was sworn in on November 23 in an early morning hush-hush ceremony, with the support of Ajit Pawar, who then headed the 54-member NCP legislature party.

While Ajit Pawar did not attend the joint meeting of the three parties on Tuesday evening, he called on his uncle Sharad Pawar at the latter’s ‘Silver Oak’ residence in Mumbai. According to sources, Supriya Sule, Sharad Pawar’s daughter, was also present.

Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal appealed to Sharad Pawar that Ajit Pawar be persuaded to return to the party fold keeping his “contribution” to the organisation in mind.

“Several people have worked hard for the the NCP. I want to mention, Ajit Dada’s contribution is big in this regard. Mistakes happen…We need some key people to be around to strengthen this alliance,” Bhujbal said, adding that Jayant Patil and Praful Patel take the initiative to bring him back.

“We request you to allow us to do that,” Bhujbal appealed to Sharad Pawar.

NCP supporters also hailed Ajit Pawar for resigning as deputy chief minster of the BJP-led government in the state, leading to its collapse. A group of his loyalists distributed sweets in his home town Baramati in Pune district.

The loyalists also appealed that Ajit Pawar, who was sacked as the NCP legislature party leader on Saturday after joining hands with the BJP, must not take “extreme step” like quitting politics.

(With inputs from agencies)

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