Uddhav Thackeray, set to be Maharashtra's new Chief Minister, thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and said on Tuesday that he "never dreamed" of leading the state. The 59-year-old Shiv Sena chief is likely to take oath on Thursday. Earlier on Tuesday, the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis resigned as Chief Minister after being ordered by the Supreme Court to prove his majority in a floor test tomorrow.
Mr Fadnavis quit as the BJP realized that with 105 MLAs, it did not have enough to reach the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, who was sworn as deputy Chief Minister and had promised the support of 54 MLAs, failed to come through.
Uddhav Thackeray's Sena, the second largest party, along with the NCP (54) and Congress (44), has 154 lawmakers.
"I had never dreamed of leading the state. I would like to thank Sonia Gandhi and others. We are giving a new direction to country by keeping faith on each other," Uddhav Thackeray said at a meeting of the Sena-NCP-Congress, the Maha Vikas Aghadi, on Tuesday evening.
The third son of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray was seen to be too low key to be heir to his legacy. He was often dismissed as a political lightweight and accused of remote control from his residence Matoshree in Mumbai. Now, he will be the first Chief Minister from the Thackeray family.
"I'm ready to answer all questions raised by Devendra Fadnavis. I am not scared of anything. Lies are not part of Hindutva. When needed you hug us and when not needed you leave us. You tried to keep us away," Mr Thackeray said, targeting the BJP. The BJP and Shiv Sena split as the Sena refused to play second fiddle and insisted on rotational chief ministership after their alliance won last month's elections together.
"I'm ready to answer all questions raised by Devendra Fadnavis. I am not scared of anything. Lies are not part of Hindutva. When needed you hug us and when not needed you leave us. You tried to keep us away," Mr Thackeray said.
Mr Thackeray is likely to have a deputy each from the Congress and the NCP. The two names in circulation for Deputy Chief Minister are Balasaheb Thorat (Congress) and Jayant Patil (NCP).
Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar took oath in a surprise swearing-in ceremony early on Saturday.
"Ajit Dada (Ajit Pawar) has resigned and he is with us. Uddhav Thackeray will be the chief minister of Maharashtra for 5 years," said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
Uddhav Thackeray, known to be a passionate photographer, has never been in the government and has not contested elections either. His son Aaditya Thackeray was the first of the Thackeray clan to ever contest elections and win. The Shiv Sena will return to power after a gap of 20 years.