MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis held the first cabinet meeting of the new government in Mumbai on Thursday evening.
The Maharashtra Cabinet has also decided to call a special session of the state assembly for two days-- July 2 and July 3.
A speaker will be elected during the session since the post is vacant following Congress MLA Nana Patole's resignation last year.
Shinde, who claims to have the support of 40 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led a revolt against the Uddhav Thackeray-led party leading to the collapse of the 31-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
A day after the resignation of Thackeray from the chief ministerial post, Shinde and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and staked claim to form the government in the state which was in the grip of political chaos for more than a week. Shinde was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Fadnavis took oath as the Deputy Chief Minister today evening.
Fadnavis, who was Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 2014-19, announced at a joint press conference in Mumbai on Thursday that he will not be part of the government.
However, later on the directions of the BJP's central leadership, Fadnavis took oath as the Deputy CM.
The Eknath Shinde camp, which had stayed mostly in Guwahati during the revolt, said that Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are Shiv Sena's traditional rivals. They had earlier urged Uddhav Thackeray to stitch a "natural alliance" with the BJP.
Thackeray resigned on Wednesday after the Shinde-led group kept adding to its numbers and the Supreme Court gave a go-ahead for a floor test in the assembly. BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the 2019 assembly polls together but differences cropped up over the post of Chief Minister.
"In 2019, BJP and Shiv Sena had an alliance and we got the required numbers in Assembly elections. We hoped to form the government but Shiv Sena chose to get into an alliance with those against whom Balasaheb protested throughout his life. Shiv Sena insulted the mandate of the people," Fadnavis said.
"Shiv Sena MLAs were demanding that the alliance with Congress and NCP should be ended but Uddhav Thackeray ignored these MLAs and gave priority to MVA alliance partners, that's why these MLAs intensified their voices," he added.
Shinde, who was also present at the press conference with Fadnavis, said, "A total of 50 MLAs are with us, including 40 MLAs from Shiv Sena...We have fought this battle so far with their help...I will not let even a scratch mar the trust that these 50 people have placed in me - let alone break that trust."
"The decision that we have taken is committed to Balasaheb's Hindutva and for the development work in the constituencies of our MLAs. We have 50 MLAs with us," he added.
The Shiv Sena leader further said that though BJP has 120 MLAs, but Fadnavis did not take up the post of Chief Minister.
"BJP has 120 MLAs but despite that Devendra Fadnavis didn't take the post of CM. I express my gratitude to him along with PM Modi, Amit Shah and other BJP leaders that they showed generosity and made Balasaheb's Sainik (party-worker) the CM of the state," he said.