Devendra Fadnavis sworn in as first BJP chief minister of Maharashtra
MUMBAI: Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as Chief
Minister of the first BJP government in Maharashtra at a grand ceremony on
Friday where Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray made a last-minute appearance,
raising the possibility of a rapprochement between the saffron parties.
44-year-old Fadnavis, a fourth time MLA and the second
Brahmin to occupy the top post in the state, was administered the oath of
office and secrecy by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao at the Wankhede Stadium in the
presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, several
Union ministers and party veterans LK Advani and MM Joshi among others.
Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states including
Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan), Anandiben Patel (Gujarat), Manohar Parrikar (Goa),
Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) and Manohar Lal Khattar (Haryana) and those governed
by allies including Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh) and Parkash Singh Badal
(Punjab) also attended the event.
Top industrialists along with other eminent
personalities, including from Bollywood, and Fadnavis’ banker wife Amruta were
present at the packed venue when seven Cabinet Ministers and two Ministers of
State also took oath.
Former ally Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, whose
party had decided to boycott the event citing ‘constant humiliation’ by BJP
ahead of government formation, attended the event along with his wife after a
last-minute call by BJP President Amit Shah.
Thackeray’s presence indicated a possible
rapprochement between the two estranged Hindutva parties which fell apart just
ahead of the Assembly polls following failure of seat sharing talks. All eyes
were on Modi and Uddhav, who shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.
With 121 BJP MLAs in a House of 288, Fadnavis is
heading a minority government that has been asked to prove majority in two
weeks. Sharad Pawar's NCP with 41 MLAs has already declared unconditional
outside support to the new government.
Cabinet Ministers who were sworn in are Eknath Khadse,
Sudhir Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde, Pankaja Munde -- all members of the BJP's
state Core Committee--, Prakash Mehta, Chandrakant Patil and Vishnu Savara. The
Ministers of State are Dilip Kamble and Vidya Thakur.
Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, M Venkaiah Naidu,
Ravishanker Prasad, Prakash Javadekar and Radhamohan Singh were present on the
occasion. Fadnavis is only the second Brahmin Chief Minister after Shiv Sena's
Manohar Joshi in the state dominated by Maratha politicians.
Groomed in RSS tradition and handpicked by Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, Fadnavis has become the 27th Chief Minister of
Maharashtra and the 18th person to hold the post. He is the fourth politician
from Vidarbha region to become CM.
He helmed the BJP in the state when it posted emphatic
victories in Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls.
Uddhav Thackeray, who sat beside Union Minister
Venkaiah Naidu, remained silent and broody through the proceedings, but was
seen smiling, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with Modi after the
ceremony got over.
“Uddhavji attended the swearing-in of Devendra
Fadnavis after BJP president Amit Shah called him up to extend invitation,”
Sena MP Vinayak Raut said. "Amit Shah also assured Uddhavji of a positive
decision on participation of Shiv Sena in the new government and we are hopeful
there will be a positive outcome when talks are held," he said.
It was, however, not yet clear when talks between the
two parties will resume to arrive at a mutually acceptable power-sharing
arrangement. Governor Rao has given Fadnavis 15 days from the day of being
sworn in to prove his majority in the Assembly.
BJP’s strength in the House has come down to 121 after
the death of its MLA Govind Rathod, but it has claimed support of all seven
independents and some from smaller parties. NCP has said it will abstain from
voting during the floor test if Sena were to sit in the opposition. This will
help the Fadnavis government to sail through.
However, taking 63-member Sena on board is still the
best option available to Fadnavis to reach the magic figure of 145.