The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine on Tuesday evening elected Uddhav Thackeray as its nominee for Maharashtra Chief Minister's post, following which their leaders met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and staked claim to form government of the "Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi".
The leaders submitted a letter claiming support of 166 MLAs to the governor. The governor, in a letter addressed to Uddhav Thackeray, said, "I have noted that Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi has won 166 number of elected members", a Raj Bhavan statement said. It further said that since Uddhav is not a member of the Maharashtra legislature, he will have to become a member within six months as taking oath as the CM. A senior Sena leader, who met the governor along with leaders of the Congress and the NCP, said Thackeray will take oath as the chief minister at 6:40 pm on November 28 at the Shivaji Park in Dadar.
Earlier, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had announced at a joint meeting of the three parties that swearing in of the new government will take place on December 1, but the schedule was apparently changed late night. "We are submitting a joint statement of staking claim for government formation. We will also produce proof of the support of all the MLAs of the three parties to the governor as part of the mandatory procedure," said the leader. The three parties held a joint meeting at a suburban hotel where Thackeray was picked as leader of the unlikely alliance. Thackeray, who would be the first member of his family to occupy the top political post in the state, said his government will not be vindictive. "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. Hours earlier, four-day-old BJP government led by Devendra Fadnavis and supported by NCP's Ajit Pawar had collapsed.
At the meeting, Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil proposed Thackeray's name as "the (next) chief minister". State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat seconded the proposal. 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. Speaking at the meeting, Thackeray evoked memories of his father, late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. He also thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar. "I want to thank Sonia ji also. Parties with different ideologies have come together...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. Common people should think of this government as their own, he said. "The fight is not personal...my government will not work in a vindictive way," Thackeray said.
Without naming the former ally BJP with whom the Sena had a bitter falling out after contesting the October 21 assembly elections together, Thackeray said he would not align with those who speak lies, apparently referring to the BJP's claim that it had never agreed to share CM's post with Sena.
Addressing reporters earlier in the day, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis accused the Shiv Sena of being desperate for the chief minister's post and surrendering its "Hindutva" at the feet of Congress president Sonia Gandhi only to keep the BJP out of power.
Referring to that comment, Thackeray said he is ready to speak on any issue the BJP wants him to and that he was not the one who gets scared. "I am a fighter. He said those who did not get out of Matoshree (the residence of Thackerays), reached out to others. I will speak on that too. But those (BJ) who had come to Matoshree, they lied outside. If this is the respect you have for Matoshree, then I cannot align with you," he added. Speaking on the occasion, Pawar eulogised Bal Thackeray, his bitter adversary in politics but a dear friend in personal life.
The three parties named their alliance as 'Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi'. Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Fadnavis resigned, 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. Ajit was not seen at the joint meeting of the three parties on Tuesday evening.