Maharashtra’s Eknath: Sources say that Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Shinde will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and stake claim to power at 3 pm.
BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis is set to return as Maharashtra chief minister after a dramatic week in which Uddhav Thackeray resigned after losing most of his Shiv Sena MLAs in a rebellion. Eknath Shinde, who would lead that rebellion, would be the deputy chief minister.
Sources say Mr Fadnavis and Mr Shinde will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and stake claim to power at 3 pm.
Mr Fadnavis is likely to take oath at the swearing-in ceremony tomorrow, two years after he was forced to step down, but four days later. Sources say that he will initially take charge of a small cabinet.
Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra yesterday, with the Supreme Court ruling that he will have to prove his majority.
After the rebellion in three BJP-ruled states, the Shiv Sena chief was left with only 13 MLAs. Mr. Shinde and a group of rebels first went to Surat in Gujarat in luxury buses. He was sent to Guwahati in Assam on chartered flights. He reached Goa last evening to prepare for a possible test of strength.
Shiv Sena rebels spokesperson Deepak Kesarkar insisted that it was the ideology, and not the expectations of big cabinet portfolios, that led him to part ways with Thackeray and go with the BJP.
He also said that the rebels did not betray Mr Thackeray and still have love and respect for him. “No one in the Shiv Sena is against the Thackeray family,” he said.
“All speculations from the departments are baseless. No decision has been taken on that yet,” Kesarkar said, however, acknowledging that his talks with the BJP to form the government have already begun.
He insisted that the rebel faction is now Shiv Sena, as Uddhav Thackeray is in minority in the party. “It is not a question of who is the real Shiv Sena. We have a legal majority and so is our legislature party,” he said.
Despite evidence of its patronage and the convenience of the rebels, the BJP denied any role in the Shiv Sena’s coup. Devendra Fadnavis held two meetings with the leadership during the crisis. In the third meeting, Eknath Shinde was being taken from Guwahati to Vadodara to hold discussions with Mr. Fadnavis and Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP’s chief strategist.
Shinde left from his hotel in Goa and is reportedly on his way to Mumbai with Maharashtra BJP MLA Ravindra Chavan, while the rest of the rebel MLAs are left behind.
Sources say he will meet BJP leaders from the state, including Mr Fadnavis, to discuss portfolios for the new government and then visit the Raj Bhavan to meet the governor.
Sources said that a large number of security forces have been deployed at the Smriti Sthal (memorial) of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray as Shinde is expected to seek blessings before forming the new government.
In a tweet, Shinde said, “There is no discussion with BJP about the details of ministerial posts yet, but it will happen soon. Till then, please don’t believe in ministerial lists and rumours.”
BJP leader Girish Mahajan has said that he has the support of more than 170 MLAs.
Maharashtra BJP tweeted a video clip of a speech by Mr. Fadnavis in Marathi. The accompanying caption, also in Marathi, read, “I will come again. To build a new Maharashtra! Jai Maharashtra“.