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Four-time MLA from Nagpur south-west Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the 27th chief minister of Maharashtra at 4.26pm on Friday. The lawyer-turned politician is the first BJP leader to take the oath of office and secrecy for the state’s highest post.
Governor C Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath at the sprawling Wankhede stadium in the presence of more than 35,000 people. A crowd of at least 5,000 had to be left outside the stadium and the gates closed for security reasons as the stadium was overflowing, with people rushing in even through the barricades.
Priests from all religions were invited for the ceremony.
Those who were sworn in as cabinet ministers included Eknath Khadse, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde, Prakash Mehta, Chandrakant Dada Patil, Pankaja Munde, Vishnu Sawra. Dilip Kamble and Vidya Thakur.
Interestingly, Tawde took his mother Vijaya’s name along with his father Shridhar’s. “This was the most precious moment of my life and I had to take both these names, as they have worked painstakingly hard to make me who I am,” he said.
While Fadnavis, Khadse, Mungantiwar, Tawde and Pankaja Munde are the party’s core committee members, Mehta was inducted to represent the powerful Gujarati community in Mumbai.
Patil was appointed by BJP president Amit Shah to revive the alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena. The minister, who comes from Kolhapur, is credited with consolidating BJP’s position in western Maharashtra, which has been Congress and NCP stronghold.
Sawra, who was elected from the tribal-dominated Vikramgad in Thane district, represents Scheduled Tribes and has been a loyal party worker for over three-and-a-half decades, while Kamble has been elected from Pune Cantonment constituency reserved for SCs.
Thakur, ex-deputy mayor in BMC who proved a giant killer after defeating Sena veteran Subhash Desai in Goregaon constituency, was chosen as BJP’s representation for North Indians.
As expected, prime minister Narendra Modi was the centre of attraction at the venue. Flanked by party veteran LK Advani and Shah, the crowd started cheering Modi from the moment he stepped in the stadium, and stopped only when he waved.
Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Radha Mohan Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Raosaheb Danve, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states and NDA allies Prakash Singh Badal, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Raman Singh, N Chandrababu Naidu, Manohar Parrikar, Anandiben Patel, and Manohar Khattar were also present.
Sena, which is quite perturbed over BJP’s alleged neglect during government formation, did a U-turn as party president Uddhav Thackeray, his wife Rashmi and Sena MP Vinayak Raut attended the ceremony.
Sena, which was insisting for the inclusion of at least two members in the cabinet, on Thursday had announced that it would skip the swearing-in. However, Shah is said to have called up Uddhav, making an emotional appeal and asking him to be present.
The corporate world was represented by Aditya Birla Group CMD Kumar Mangalam Birla, Godrej chairman Adi Godrej, Reliance ADAG CMD Anil Ambani. Builder Niranjan Hiranandani also attended the function.
There were faces from the old charge too, with former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, chairman of Maharashtra Legislative Council Shivajirao Deshmukh, speaker of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Dilip Walse-Patil, former Union minister Praful Patel, former deputy chief ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Ajit Pawar, NCP state chief Sunil Tatkare, and former minister Jayant Patil attending the ceremony.
BJP leaders OP Mathur, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Vijay Kumar Goyal, and Shyam Jaju also shared dais with senior party leaders.