Mumbai: In an unexpected move that is being seen as a political masterstroke, the BJP announced rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as the new chief minister of Maharashtra.
In a ceremony held at Raj Bhavan on Thursday evening, Mr Shinde and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis took oaths as chief minister and deputy chief minister, respectively.
Mr Fadnavis’s appointment as a deputy CM also came as a surprise, as he himself had earlier claimed that he will not be a part of the cabinet but will offer support from outside. But, later, BJP national president J.P. Nadda informed that Mr Fadnavis will serve as the deputy CM in the Shinde-led ministry.
The new government was formed in Maharashtra after Uddhav Thackeray quit as Maharashtra chief minister on Wednesday, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled that he must prove his majority in the floor test. He will be the fourth Shiv Sena CM after Manohar Joshi, Narayan Rane and Mr Thackeray and the first CM from Mumbai's neighbouring Thane city.
Mr Fadnavis and Mr Shinde met governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in the afternoon at Raj Bhavan to stake a claim for government formation in Maharashtra. After this, Mr Fadnavis surprised everyone by naming Mr Shinde as the next CM. The announcement came as a jolt as he was expected to return as the chief minister with the support of the Shinde faction.
Mr Fadnavis also said the Shiv Sena, by joining hands with the Congress and the NCP in 2019 to overthrow the BJP, had insulted the public mandate. He further claimed rampant corruption during the rule of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government while quoting two NCP leaders accused of corruption.
Mr Shinde thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, Nadda and Fadnavis for making him CM. "Despite having the support of 120 MLAs, Fadnavis showed a big heart and gave the CM post to me. If he had wished he could have kept the CM post with himself," he added.
Mr Fadnavis said that he accepts the party's orders as a loyal activist. "For me, the directives of the party, which have given me the highest post, are above everything else," he tweeted.
Mr Modi congratulated Mr Shinde and Mr Fadnavis on being sworn in as the CM and deputy CM.
Meanwhile, the rebel MLAs, who stayed put in Goa, celebrated Mr Shinde’s anointment as the CM by dancing and singing. In the Kopri-Panchpakhadi constituency in Thane city, which Mr Shinde represents, people burst fire crackers and distributed sweets to celebrate the occasion.
Mr Shinde arrived in Mumbai from Goa in the morning. He was provided with a Z-category security cover by the Centre. He claimed that he had the support of 50 MLAs, including 39 MLAs.
The Shinde family originally belonged to the Satara district and moved to Thane in the ’70s. In his early days, Mr Shinde started with odd jobs. He worked at a beer brewery and a fishing company. Later, he also worked as an autorickshaw driver. Mr Shinde joined the Shiv Sena in the ’80s.