Uddhav Thackeray had invited former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Interim President of Congress Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to join him for his oath programme. But the three leaders have expressed their inability to be here. These veteran leaders of the INC have, of course, congratulated Uddhav Thackeray through the letter and also regretted not being present at the function.
All the three politicians wrote a letter before Uddhav’s oath ceremony and regretted not being present in the program and also congratulated Uddhav for taking the oath.
In his letter, Manmohan Singh wrote, ‘I am very happy that today you are taking oath as the 19th Chief Minister of Maharashtra at Shivaji Park in Mumbai. It will definitely be a historic moment and I wish you and your cabinet all the best for that.
Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to Uddhav congratulating him. She said the Shiv Sena, NCP and INC had come together in extraordinary circumstances. At a time when the country is in “unprecedented threats from the BJP”. But she regretted that she would not be able to attend the oath ceremony.
Sonia’s son and former INC president Rahul Gandhi has written a letter to Uddhav Thackeray, too, about not attending the event. Rahul Gandhi has congratulated Thackeray for the occasion.
Why they skipped the Thackeray event
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s intention was to support the Shiv Sena-led government from outside. NCP chief Sharad Pawar was aware of it when he approached the INC president after the BJP-Shiv Sena link snapped. Congress sources have confirmed this, adding that the advice of Maharashtra unit of the INC and the efforts of Sharad Pawar changed the picture. The INC became a part of the Shiv Sena-NCP government.
An INC leader told Sirf News Sonia Gandhi considered her party to be a legacy of MK Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, which is supposed to remain “secular, espouse a liberal ideology believing in non-violence”. Whereas, the politician said, the Shiv Sena is founded on the ideals of Hindutva and is associated with several incidents of discrimination and violence.
This was why the INC put forth the precondition of a common minimum programme for joining the coalition. A coordination committee was the other precondition. Most important of all, the source said, “Sonia ji made Shiv Sena agree to secularism.”
Even the second-rung leaders of the INC skipped the event in fear of the photo-op that was bound to accompany the function. “After channels and newspapers flash the photos with us standing with Shiv Sena leaders, the images could turn an embarrassment in posterity,” the leader said.
INC believes that this will send a wrong message about politics and ideology across the country. Due to this hesitation, the party leadership did not think it appropriate to take any risk at the moment.
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi had attended the swearing-in ceremony of the government of Karnataka. Her photographs with Mayawati and the leaders of other parties were prominently flashed on the media. “We were not comfortable with that photo-op either,” the source said.
New, shaky innings for Uddhav
Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray is going to be the chief minister of Maharashtra for the first time. The Shiv Sena has tied up with the NCP and INC to form the new government in Maharashtra. The grand function at the Shivaji Park ground in Mumbai just concluded.
Amid the much-attended event, the biggest question is the role Ajit Pawar will play in the new government. Will he be placed once again as a deputy chief minister or will another role be chosen for him? When the media had questioned Ajit Pawar earlier today, he had said he was not going to take oath on 28 November.
Both Pawar and Praful Patel said that State Cabinet ministers would not be announced on Thursday. Only two MLAs of the three parties took the oath of office eventually.
After the meeting of the Shiv Sena, NCP and INC’s Maha Vikas Aghadi, Patel said that the INC would get the post of Speaker of the Assembly while NCP would get the post of a Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.
Ajit Pawar said today that a decision has not been taken on the deputy chief minister from NCP. He said that the party’s decision would be final.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray took oath as Chief Minister of Maharashtra at 6:40 pm today at Shivaji Park, located in Dadar, Mumbai. He is the third politician of the Shiv Sena to hold this post after Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane.
Before the oath ceremony, while no party was confirming the portfolios, sources had said Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal from the NCP, Subhash Desai from the Shiv Sena, Eknath Shinde, Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan from the Congress could take oath as ministers. However, Chavan’s name was later removed, as the INC believed the Narendra Modi government would go after him for his alleged involvement in the Adarsh Housing Society scam.
Finally, the MLAs that were sworn in were Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai, NCP’s Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal and INC’s Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut.
Sources in these parties said that the portfolio allocation will happen later tonight or early tomorrow. They added that the prolonged stay in hotels has got on their nerves and they wish to get to work now. Two of the MLAs said under the condition of anonymity that their itineraries for one whole month were rendered meaningless as they were held up by their respective parties in hotels.