The Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress alliance — Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) — plans to put up a show of strength of non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parties at the swearing-in ceremony of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the next chief minister of Maharashtra on Thursday. Uddhav, the first Thackeray to be a chief minister of the state, will be administered the oath at 6.40pm at Shivaji Park, the ground in Dadar where his father, the late Bal Thackeray, founded Shiv Sena in 1966.
The MVA has sent out invitations for the ceremony to senior leaders from across the country, sending out a message to BJP, a day after forcing Devendra Fadnavis to quit as chief minister. The Shiv Sena has also invited 400 state farmers and relatives of those who died owing to agrarian crisis. Most of these farmers are from the Marathwada, where unseasonal rain destroyed crops last month.
Among political leaders, Congress president Sonia Gandhi; West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee; Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal; DMK president MK Stalin; Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav; and CMs of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh — both states have Congress governments — have been invited.
Sena leader and newly elected MLA Aaditya Thackeray along with party secretary Milind Narvekar, who is a close aide of Uddhav Thackeray, personally extended the invitation to Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday evening.
Interestingly, Uddhav Thackeray has also invited his cousin, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While Raj Thackeray is likely to be present at the ceremony, Sena leaders, who did not wish to be named, said Modi won’t be coming.
Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar said Sena has sent out invitations as the government is led by them.
“Since the chief minister is from Shiv Sena, they have invited leaders and other dignitaries. We have invited chief ministers of Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,” he said.
“The gathering of all non-BJP allies will send out a message at the national level. During the Lok Sabha polls, there were attempts made by NCP chief Sharad Pawar to form a ‘Third Front’. This is an initiative to bring together non-BJP parties on a stage ahead of key state elections,” said a senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, preparations for the ceremony have begun at Shivaji Park. “It is going to be a historic ceremony. Shiv Tirth is a special place; there is [a] Shivaji Maharaj [statue] on the ground; the [makeshift] memorial of Balasaheb [Thackeray] is there; and with their blessings and guidance, Uddhavji will take oath to lead the state. A people’s government is going to come to power now,” said Sena leader Eknath Shinde.
Sena MP and party secretary Vinayak Raut said farmers have been invited from regions that have seen suicides owing to agrarian crisis. Raut said Uddhav Thackeray had promised a farmer, Sanjay Sawant, from Sangli district that he would be invited when a Sena CM took oath. “We have invited around 400 farmers from various parts of the state. Uddhavji has kept his promise and has asked us to invite Sawant too. Sawant and his wife have been invited; he is from the Warkari sect,” Raut said.
Thackeray had met Sawant during his tour of Sangli district on November 15.
Source: Hindustan Times