Saturday, 1 November 2014

Uddhav attends Fadnavis' swearing-in ceremony, sparks alliance rumours

Mumbai: Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as BJP’s first Chief Minister of Maharashtra at a grand ceremony held at Wankhede Stadium on Friday evening.
Fadnavis, a fourth-term MLA from Nagpur, is the 27th Chief Minister of Maharashtra. At 44, he is the second youngest person to hold the top post and also the fourth political leader from the Vidarbha region to become CM.
Devendra Fadnavis. Sachin Gokhale/ Firstpost
Devendra Fadnavis. Sachin Gokhale/ Firstpost
Maharashtra governor C Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office and secrecy in Marathi to Fadnavis at the public ceremony in the presence of more than 35,000 people. Seven Cabinet ministers, two ministers of state were also sworn in by Rao.
The seven cabinet ministers are Eknath Khadse, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde, Prakash Mehta, Chandrakant Patil, Pankaja Munde and Vishnu Savara. Two others – Dilip Kamble and Vidya Thakur — are ministers of state.
While Fadnavis, Khadse, Mungantiwar, Tawde and Pankaja Munde are the party's core committee members, Mehta has been inducted to represent the powerful Gujarati community. Vidya Thakur, who defeated Shiv Sena veteran Subhash Desai in Goregaon constituency in Mumbai, could probably be seen as BJP's North Indian face.
Chandrakant Patil, an MLC, is from Kolhapur and was instrumental in reviving the alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena. He was also inducted as cabinet minister as to represent the western Maharashtra region.
Sawra, who is elected from the tribal dominated Vikramgad constituency in Palghar district, represents the Scheduled Tribe while Dilip Kamble has been elected from Pune Cantonement constituency reserved for SCs.
On Friday, the BJP inducted the ministers from all the regions that include Mumbai, Konkan, Western Maharashtra, Marathwada, North Maharashtra and Vidrabha.
The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP veterans LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP president Amit Shah. Union ministers present on the occasion of the change of guard in the state were Nitin Gadkari, Prakash Javadekar, Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman. Raosaheb Danve also attended the function. Chief ministers of BJP ruled states and NDA allies Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Raman Singh, N Chandrababu Naidu, Manohar Parrikar, Anandiben Patel, Manohar Lal Khattar were also present.
During the swearing-in ceremony, BJP activists were seen cheering ministers but appeared more enthusiastic after Modi arrive on the stage.
Following Sena's announcement that it would boycott the swearing in ceremony, the BJP leaders swung into action and called up Sena president Uddhav Thackeray requesting him to attend the ceremony. On Friday, between 11 am and 3 pm, five calls — three by Fadnavis, one by union minister Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah — were made to Uddhav. After which the Sena chief changed his mind and was present for the event along with his wife.
Uddhav's presence revived speculations about a BJP-Sena alliance in the state government. After the ceremony, Shah met Thackeray, however what transpired during there brief meeting is not known.
The Sena had insisted the inclusion of at least two members in the cabinet during the swearing-in, but with the BJP clearly calling the shots in the alliance, that did not happen.
"Though the BJP has not agreed to give us specific portfolios, it said that a 'respectable power share' will be given to us," sources from Sena said.
"It seems that our decision to boycott the ceremony has worked," said a Sena leader adding that "We could have today announced the party's legislative leader in assembly if BJP leaders had not called us."
Apart from BJP leaders, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, senior NCP leader and former Union minister Praful Patel, former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, senior NCP leaders Chhagan Bhujbal, Dilip Walse-Patil, Jayant Patil and Sunil Tatkare were also present.
The BJP emerged as the single largest party in the 288-member state Assembly with 122 seats. Though it will be a minority government, the NCP, that has 41 members, has extended ‘unconditional’ outside support to the BJP to form the government. The BJP also has the support of seven independents and other smaller parties.