The set for the event was a fort-like structure of 6,000 sq ft, designed by renowned artist Nitin Desai.
Mumbai: Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray was on Friday sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra amid a galaxy of national political dignitaries and business tycoon Mukesh Ambani and his family as half a lakh people looked on at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park. He took oath as chief minister of the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP alliance “Maha Vikas Aghadi” (MVA), which also declared its common minimum programme stating the alliance will “uphold the secular values enshrined in the Constitution”.
Fireworks were set off as the proceedings began as Sena supporters raised slogans and clicked pictures, joyous at the sight of one of their partymen occupying the state’s top post after 20 years.
Soon after his swearing-in, Mr Thackeray expressed his gratitude by bowing to the masses, a mannerism of his father, party founder Bal Thackeray, drawing a round of rapturous applause.
Clad in a dark saffron kurta, Mr Thackeray declared that even though allied with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress, he would keep his Hindutva agenda “close to his heart”.
Mr Thackeray’s fellow partymen Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai, NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal and Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut
also took the oath as ministers.
Mr Thackeray, 59, took the oath as the state’s 18th chief minister, paying tribute to 17th century Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and remembering his parents. His wife Rashmi and sons Aaditya, who is an MLA, and Tejas were also present. Mr Thackeray became the third Sena leader after Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane to occupy the CM’s post in the state.
It was a show of strength for all three parties which comprise the MVA government, with hordes of their supporters flocking Shivaji Park since the afternoon. The set for the event was a fort-like structure of 6,000 sq ft, designed by renowned artist Nitin Desai.
Among dignitaries, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and DMK president M.K. Stalin were the most prominent. NCP chief Sharad Pawar — who was instrumental in bringing together the Sena, NCP and Congress to form the government — was also present, along with his nephew, former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, and daughter MP Supriya Sule. Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Mallikarjun Kharge were there as well.
Former chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, who resigned on Tuesday, three days after being sworn in again as chief minister, was present at the event as were three other former chief ministers — Mr Joshi and Congress’ Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan.
Interestingly, the biggest round of applause from the spectators was reserved for Mr Thackeray’s estranged cousin, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, and Ajit Pawar, who had rebelled from his party to form a shortlived government with the BJP.
After the ceremony, Mr Thackeray headed to the famous Siddhivinayak temple where he, along with Rashmi and Aaditya, offered prayers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate Mr Thackeray on taking the oath as chief minister, saying he was confident that the Shiv Sena chief would work diligently for the bright future of the state. “Congratulations to Uddhav Thackeray Ji on taking oath as the CM of Maharashtra. I am confident he will work diligently for the bright future of Maharashtra,” he tweeted.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who did not make it to the event, said in a congratulatory letter to Mr Thackeray that the country was facing “unprecedented threats” from the BJP. “Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have come together under quite extraordinary circumstances at a time when the country faces unprecedented threats from the BJP,” Mrs Gandhi’s letter said. “I wish you all the very best as you embark on a new innings in your life,” she added.