Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde took oath as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai on Thursday, while BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister. Shinde has become Chief Minister with the support of 106 BJP MLAs, 38 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and independents.
Recently, Shinde rebelled against the Uddhav Thackeray-led government, after which Thackeray had to resign from the post.
In a surprise move, the BJP announced on Thursday that it will not stake the claim for the post of Chief Minister and will support Eknath Shinde as CM.
Early evening, Devendra Fadnavis made it clear that he would not be part of the Shinde Cabinet. But the BJP’s national President, JP Nadda, stated that the party wants Fadnavis to become Deputy Chief Minister in the Shinde Cabinet. Later, Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted that Fadnavis has decided to be part of the State government for the benefit of the State and the people.
Earlier, while speaking to the press in Mumbai, Fadnavis said: “BJP is not after power. This fight is not for the post of the CM. This is the fight for principles, Hindutva and ideology. BJP has decided to support Eknath Shinde.”
Experts say that with Shinde at the helm, claiming that he represents Shiv Sena which fights for Hindutva, the BJP will target the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction and support Shinde to discredit Uddhav and his supporters.
Who is Eknath Shinde?
Eknath Shinde (58) is MLA from Kopri-Panchpakhadi in Thane city. He originally belongs to the Satara district in western Maharashtra. He was Cabinet Minister in the Uddhav Thackeray government.
Shinde shifted to Thane from Satara, where he also worked as an auto-rickshaw driver.
In 1980 he joined Shiv Sena and moved closer to then Sena stalwart Anant Dighe in Thane. He later started his electoral political life by winning the election of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) corporator. In 2001, he was elected as a leader of the house in TMC. He is in the State Assembly since 2004, and comfortably won the 2009, 2014 and 2019 elections.
His son, Shrikant Shinde, is an orthopedic surgeon, and is a Member of Parliament from the Kalyan constituency.
“I will not betray the faith Fadnavis has placed in me,” Shinde told reporters. He tweeted later that he was committed to Maharashtra’s overall development and his appointment as CM was a victory of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s ideology and his mentor, late ‘Dharmaveer’ Anand Dighe’s teachings.