Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi decided to skip the swearing-in ceremony of Uddhav Thackeray as the Maharashtra chief minister and have conveyed this to him.
Noting that the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress have come together under extraordinary circumstances, Sonia Gandhi, in a letter, wished Thackeray the very best in life and hoped that the new government would fulfil the hopes and expectations of the people of Maharashtra.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh also sent his best wishes to Thackeray, terming his taking over as the chief minister of Maharashtra as a 'historic event'.
'Aaditya (Thackeray) met me yesterday and extended your kind invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony this evening in Mumbai. I regret that I am unable to be present at the function,' Sonia Gandhi wrote to Thackeray.
'I wish you personally all the very best as you embark on a new innings in your life,' she said.
The Congress chief said the Shiv Sena, NCP and her party have come together under 'quite extraordinary circumstances, at a time when the country faces unprecedented threats from the BJP'.
'The political atmosphere has become poisonous and the economy has collapsed, farmers are facing great distress. The Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress have agreed to a common minimum programme and I am confident that all three parties will strive their utmost to implement that programme in letter and spirit,' she said.
'The people of Maharashtra expect the alliance to provide a cohesive, purposeful, responsible, responsive and transparent administration and our collective effort will undoubtedly be to ensure that these expectations are fulfilled,' Sonia Gandhi said.
Singh said he was very happy to know that Thackeray was taking oath as the 19th chief minister of Maharashtra at Mumbai's Shivaji Park on Thursday.
'Certainly it is a historic event and I commend you on your visionary leadership.
'I take this opportunity to convey to you and all the ministers in your cabinet my heartiest congratulations and to send you my best wishes on this auspicious occasion,' he wrote to Thackeray.
Rahul Gandhi expressed his regret for not being able to attend the swearing-in ceremony, but conveyed his best wishes to the Shiv Sena chief.
‘Thank you for your kind invitation to the swearing-in ceremony today. I offer my best wishes and congratulations on taking oath as chief minister of Maharashtra. I regret that I am unable to be present at the function,’ he wrote to Thackeray, adding, ‘I wish you the very best as you embark on this new journey.’
The former Congress chief also noted that the events leading up to the government formation in Maharashtra had set a ‘dangerous precedent for our democracy’.
‘I am glad that the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi has come together to defeat the BJP's attempt to undermine our democracy. The people of Maharashtra have high expectations from the coalition and I am confident it will provide them a stable, secular and pro-poor government,’ he said.
Thackeray will take over as the Maharashtra chief minister at a function in Mumbai's Shivaji Park after the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP decided to come together and form a government in the state under a common minimum programme.