Invites for Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s swearing-in ceremony as chief minister on Thursday evening were sent out to politicians across party lines, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, along with several other leaders, NDTV reported. The oath will be administered at Shivaji Park in Mumbai.
The new Shiv Sena-led government will have only one deputy chief minister from the Nationalist Congress Party while the Assembly Speaker will be from the Congress. A few legislators from the Sena, the NCP, and the Congress will also take oath along with Thackeray.
The state will get a chief minister from the party after 20 years but a member of the Thackeray family will hold the position for the first time.
Thackeray, who will become the 18th chief minister of the state, called the prime minister on Wednesday evening to invite him to the ceremony. He had earlier sent an invitation letter to Modi.
Following reports that Gandhi along with former Congress President Rahul Gandhi would not attend the oath-taking, Shiv Sena MLA and the party chief’s son Aaditya Thackeray flew to Delhi to invite the interim Congress president. The newly-elected Sena legislator also invited former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the event. However, both Sonia Gandhi and Singh offered their best wishes and said they will not be able to travel for the ceremony.
Among other invitees are West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin, and around 400 farmers from several districts of the state. The Delhi chief minister has reportedly said that he would not be able to attend the ceremony.
Thackeray had on Tuesday been unanimously chosen as the chief ministerial nominee of the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress alliance, which will be called the “Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi”.
Bombay HC raises concerns about venue
Nearly 2,000 police personnel are expected to be deployed for the swearing-in ceremony, which is likely to begin at 6.40 pm at the Shivaji Park. The venue has traditionally been used for major events of the party, including for founder Bal Thackeray’s Dussehra rallies.
The Bombay High Court raised security concerns over the event, and said that holding such ceremonies at a public ground should not become a recurrent feature. “We do not want to say anything about tomorrow’s ceremony... we are only praying that nothing untoward happens,” a division bench said, according to PTI. “What will happen is that this [holding ceremonies] will become a regular feature and everyone will want to use the ground for such ceremonies.”
In 2010, the court had declared that the area was a “silent zone” after a non-governmental organisation filed a public interest litigation.
The political churn in Maharashtra
The BJP had won 105 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the results of which were announced on October 24. The Shiv Sena, which was in an alliance with the BJP, won 56 seats. Despite having enough seats to form a government together, the two allies bickered over power-sharing – the chief minister’s post and Cabinet portfolios – resulting in the Shiv Sena starting negotiations with the ideologically different Congress and NCP instead.
With no outcome in sight then, the Centre imposed President’s Rule in Maharashtra on November 12. The Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP continued negotiations to form an alliance, and on Friday evening, Sharad Pawar announced that Uddhav Thackeray had been unanimously chosen to head the new government. Thus, the oath-taking ceremony of Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar early on Saturday came as a surprise.
The same day, the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress filed a petition in the Supreme Court against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision to invite the BJP to form the government. On Sunday, the top court asked for the letters of support on the basis of which the governor took action. After these letters were submitted to the court on Monday, it reserved its verdict in the case, for Tuesday morning. The next day, the court ordered a floor test before 5 pm on Wednesday.
Hours after the Supreme Court verdict, Fadnavis resigned as the chief minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy. Fadnavis conceded that the BJP had failed to form the government. Ajit Pawar confirmed on Wednesday that he was still with the Nationalist Congress Party.
Earlier on Wednesday, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had claimed that people should not be surprised if his party comes to power in New Delhi also.