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In a surprise turn of events Thursday, Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra and BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as the Deputy Chief Minister.
Shinde became the 20th Chief Minister of the state a day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray resigned as CM ahead of a floor test, bringing to an end the 31-month rule of his Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition.
What came as a surprise was the about-turn by Fadnavis. Shortly after he told a press conference that he would not be a part of the government, the central leadership of the party said Fadnavis would be joining the government.
BJP president J P Nadda said, “The central leadership has directed that Devendra Fadnavis should take the responsibility of Deputy Chief Minister.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in a Twitter post, said, “At the advice of Shri JP Nadda, Devendra Fadnavis has shown a big heart and has decided to join the government in the interest of the people of Maharashtra.”
It is learnt that even the Prime Minister spoke to Fadnavis, asking him to join the government.
The announcement of Shinde’s appointment as Chief Minister, made by Fadnavis, came as a surprise because the BJP with 106 MLAs is the single largest party in the existing House of 287 – the total strength is 288 but a Sena MLA passed away last month – and the natural claimant to the post of the Chief Minister.
Fadnavis next to him, Shinde thanked the BJP leadership. “I express my deep gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda and Devendra Fadnavis. This government will fulfill the aspirations of the common man. We will see a strong government in Maharashtra. I will ensure the confidence and trust Fadnavis has in me as CM is not compromised,” he said.
He said Fadnavis has shown a large heart. “No one does this after having 120 MLAs. If they wish, they could have kept the CM post, but they showed generosity to give the CM post to Balasaheb’s Shiv Sainik,” Shinde said.
Fadnavis said, “We are not after power. This is a fight for ideology and Hindutva and for that reason the BJP has decided that it will support Eknath Shinde who will be the Chief Minister.”
He said the Shiv Sena, by joining hands with Congress and NCP in 2019, had insulted the public mandate. He alleged that corruption was rampant during the rule of the MVA.
Fadnavis said he would not be part of the Shinde-led government, but would offer every support from outside and would ensure its smooth functioning – a decision he reversed later.
He said Shinde took the decision of breaking away from the Sena because it formed a government “with the same people whom we all fought”.
“Today, Shinde, BJP and other independents and small party MLAs have come together and have decided to form the government and have submitted the letter to the Governor. The decision of supporting the Shinde faction was taken as we had promised that we will not force mid-term elections in the state. For the development of the state and for Hindutva, we have taken this decision,” Fadnavis said.
Shinde reiterated that Shiv Sena’s 40 MLAs and other independents make a total of 50 MLAs and they together “will take forward the thoughts and Hindutva ideology” of Balasaheb Thackeray and Dharamveer Anand Dighe.
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