New Delhi: ‘Uddhav Thackeray has agreed to be the chief minister of Maharashtra’, said Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, hours after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar asserted that the Sena president was unanimous choice of ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (Sena-NCP-Congress) for the Chief Minister’s post.

“A consensus has evolved on Uddhav Thackeray’s name for the Chief Minister of a Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress alliance government in Maharashtra”,  Pawar said after the two-hour long joint meeting ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ (Sena-NCP-Congress) at the National Science Centre in Mumbai on Friday.

Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde, Subhash Desai, Sanjay Raut; Congress’ Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge, KC Venugopal, Avinash Pande, Balasaheb Thorat, Prithviraj Chavan; NCP’s Praful Patel, Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar (NCP) had attended the decisive meeting.

Emerging from the meeting, Pawar asserted, “There is unanimity on the name of Uddhav Thackeray for Chief Minister’s post. Now, he must take it up.” Asked if Uddhav Thackeray will be the new Chief Minister, Pawar shot back, “Don’t you understand Hindi? The new government will be led by Uddhav Thackeray.”

Coming out of the meeting along with son Aaditya, Sena chief Uddhav told reporters that the talks were positive. “We will end the discussions soon and come before media,” he added.

Minutes later, Congress leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan addressed a press conference and said that three parties (Congress-NCP-Sena) had positive discussions about government formation in Maharashtra and will continue discussions on Saturday too.

“All senior leaders of the 3 parties had positive discussions about govt formation. We’ve reached consensus on many issues but talks to continue tomorrow”, said Chavan. On being asked about ‘consensus over Uddhav as CM’, Chavan said,”Whatever Sharad Pawar Ji has stated is on record, I won’t speak on that. When we’ve discussed all things, we’ll speak on them.”

NCP leader Praful Patel also spoke on similar lines and said that after everything is finalised, it will be informed to the media. The proposed ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ comprising the Sena-NCP-Congress is likely to hold a press conference on Saturday where the final details will be shared with the media.

“After the press conference tomorrow, we shall make attempts to stake claim at the earliest possible opportunity,” NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

Reports have also claimed that all three parties have agreed that there will be no rotational chief ministership and the Sena will keep the top post for the full five-year term.

Sena CM after 20 years

If things fall into place after Saturday’s meeting Maharashtra will have a Sena CM after 20 years.  Manohar Joshi was the first Chief Minister of Shiv Sena. He had assumed office in 1995 and remained in power till 1999.

After Joshi’s resignation,  another Shiv Sena leader Narayan Rane (now in BJP)  succeeded him in the state.  Rane ran the Maharashtra government from February 1, 1999 till October 17, 1999.

Nearly a month-long political crisis

Ever since the results of Maharashtra Assembly elections were announced, the state has been facing a political crisis after the Sena and the BJP which secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively broke their 30-year-old alliance over rotational CM’s post and equal sharing of Cabinet berths.

On November 9, in a bid to end the impasse, Maharashtra governor BS Koshyari invited BJP to form government in Maharashtra but single largest party in the state declined the offer saying it does not have the numbers. Following this Koshyari asked the second-largest party, the Shiv Sena, Eknath Shinde to indicate the willingness and ability of his party to form the government in Maharashtra.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray with BJP's Amit Shah

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray with BJP’s Amit Shah. Photo Courtesy: IANS

“If no party is ready to form government in the state, then Shiv Sena can take the responsibility of forming a government in Maharashtra. Congress is not the enemy of the state and there are differences between all political parties on some issues,” Sena’s spokesperson Sanjay Raut had said. After the saffron party failed to stake claim the governor then invited NCP and Congress to form government.

Of the total 288 seats at stake, the NCP won 54, and the Congress won 44.

Twitterati React

As soon Sarad Pawar announced that Sena president was the consensus choice as the new Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray trended on Twitter. There were quite a few memes warning Uddhav of the pitfalls of his political move.

One user posted a picture of late Bal Thackeray holding the Congress flag while another showed Uddhav wearing a Hawaian shirt. Another accused Uddhav of “destroying his father’s dynasty for his son’s throne”.

One user posted a picture of a tiger sitting alongside a cat. He wrote: “The tiger’s roar (Bal Thackeray) has turned into a cat’s meow (Uddhav Thackeray)”.

One user posted a meme of a crying HD Kumaraswamy, a former Karnataka chief minister to sum up his feelings on the news reports.

One even posted a clipping of popular video game to indicate he will fail in his latest political adventure.