THANE: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Wednesday said he was a "sevak" and his government was committed to the all-round development of the state as well as welfare of its citizens.
Mr Shinde also said that the decisions being taken now for the welfare of the people, should have been taken two-and-a-half-years back, but since that did not happen, 50 MLAs had to unite and take a stand.
He was referring to Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray's announcement made on Tuesday about his party's support to the National Democratic Alliance's Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu.
Mr Shinde was interacting with reporters at Anand Ashram in the city after paying tributes to late Shiv Sena leader and his mentor Anand Dighe on the occasion of Guru Purnima.
When asked about NCP president Sharad Pawar's recent remark that he wanted the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress to contest the future elections together as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), the chief minister said, "Pawar is a big leader. The 50 MLAs, who are in my camp and with the present alliance (with the BJP), all of us are aiming to develop the state. Hence, we do not want to get into any politics. "My government wants to ensure that the lives of the people of the state are improved. The citizens should feel that it is their government. I am a 'sevak' (servant) and will remain one till the end. I will walk on the path shown by late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and Anand Dighe by following their principles," he said.
When asked about Mr Thackeray announcing his party's support to Murmu, Shinde said the Shiv Sena MPs wanted it. "Even we, the 50 (rebel) MLAs, have already declared our backing to Murmu. The support being given to Murmu from all quarters is being welcomed at all levels and by everyone. Even the support given by Uddhav Thackeray to her is being welcomed from all quarters," he added.
"The decisions meant for the welfare of the people, which are being taken now, should have been taken two-and-a-half-years back. But since they did not do so, the 50 MLAs had to unite and take a stand. We have taken this decision now," he said.
Mr Shinde was referring to the rebellion in the Shiv Sena led by him last month. A majority of the Sena MLAs had sided with him, leading to the collapse of the MVA government headed by Uddhav Thackeray. Shinde became the chief minister, a day after Thackeray resigned from the top post on June 29.
"The stand taken by the 50 MLAs has been receiving an overwhelming response from all over the state. Even during my visit to Pandharpur recently, where 10 lakh people had gathered on the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi, I got a rousing reception. I moved freely among the people and they gave me love," he added.
The stand taken by the rebel camp has been welcomed by the party's office-bearers, corporators and all others, he claimed.
"Even today, Sena corporators from Ulhasnagar supported us, and the situation is similar in Nashik and Ahmednagar, etc," he said.
When asked whether the expansion of his cabinet would happen after July 18, he replied in the affirmative, but refused to elaborate.
Mr Shinde also evaded any direct reply to a query about Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut's statement that his party's support to Murmu does not mean backing the BJP, he said his faction's spokesperson Deepak Kesarkar has gone to Delhi for a meeting of the parties called by the NDA over the presidential polls.