Not many know that Maharashtra’s Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta was specially flown in from Delhi for the Devendra Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar swearing-in ceremony on November 24. Mehta, who was on casual leave from November 21, had taken permission to leave Mumbai, deputing Additional Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte to look after administrative work in the Chief Secretary’s office. But he had to cut short his trip and board a chartered plane after he was informed about the oath-taking around 10.30 pm on November 23. Mehta landed in Mumbai after midnight, and then was in the Raj Bhavan for most of the next day.
…And Mehta wasn’t the only IAS officer present for the top secret oath-taking ceremony. It turns out that three other serving bureaucrats — an Additional Chief Secretary-rank officer, a Principal Secretary, and a Secretary-rank officer — and a retired bureaucrat were present for the ceremony. But with the Fadnavis government collapsing in 80 hours, sources said anxiety has gripped these bureaucrats about their own fate in the new government.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s address to the legislature in Marathi on Sunday was received with applause by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sena leaders. But whether this overture redefines ties between the Governor’s office and the ruling party remains to be seen. It is no secret that the two sides have not exactly been warm with each other so far. A senior Shiv Sena leader recounted that how a Shiv Sena delegation, comprising Thackeray’s son Aaditya, had met Koshyari to seek more time for staking claim to form the government earlier this month, Koshyari had ruffled feathers by “ridiculing” the Thackeray scion.
There was an uproar in the House when former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, now Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, on Saturday questioned the validity of the swearing-in of his successor Uddhav Thackeray and the new council of ministers. While the objection was raised to the invoking of national leaders, political leaders and reformers at the beginning of the speech, a video where Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde had invoked Bal Thackeray’s name while taking the oath in 2014 has now gone viral. A former BJP minister admitted that no questions regarding the validity had been raised then.
With his appointment as Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis will soon be allotted an official government bungalow opposite Mantralaya. But until then, Fadnavis’ family has shortlisted a rental accommodation in South Mumbai’s Colaba, said sources close to the former CM. Fadnavis has already started moving his belongings from Varsha, the chief minister’s official bungalow, at Malabar Hill.