Maharashtra will have a chief minister from the Shiv Sena after 20 years, with party chief Uddhav Thackeray set to take oath of the top post at a public ceremony in Mumbai on Thursday.
Thackeray, 59, will be sworn in as the chief minister in an evening ceremony at the sprawling Shivaji Park, where his father and Sena founder Bal Thackeray addressed his famous Dussehra rallies.
The last Sena man to occupy the CM's chair was Narayan Rane in 1999, after Manohar Joshi, who in 1995 became the first Sena CM.
Thursday's swearing in ceremony follows days of dramatic political developments, which included a three-day government formed by unexpected support from Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, who has since returned to the Sharad Pawar-led party fold.
There is speculation that Ajit Pawar, who was present at a party meeting here on Wednesday after meeting the NCP chief on Tuesday night, may be inducted in the new cabinet.
A special session of the 14th state assembly was held here on Wednesday where oath was administered to 285 newly-elected members by pro tem Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar who was appointed to the post by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Legislature secretary Rajendra Bhagwat said a decision on the date for Speaker's election will be taken after the Cabinet meeting, following the swearing-in of Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister.
NCP MP Supriya Sule greeted her party MLAs Ajit Pawar and Rohit Pawar at Vidhan Bhawan entrance.
The newly-elected members could not take oath earlier even one month after the results of the assembly polls were announced due to dramatic political developments in the state.
The state remained under President's rule for 13 days between November 12 and 23 after no political party was able to form a government.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Koshyari to appoint a pro tem speaker and ensure all elected members of the House are sworn in on Wednesday itself by 5 pm.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, which was formed with the support of NCP leader Ajit Pawar on November 23, collapsed on Tuesday afternoon, after Pawar stepped down as deputy chief minister and Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister.
The resignation of Fadnavis came a day after the Sena-led alliance paraded 162 MLAs in an unprecedented show of strength at a luxury hotel here Monday night indicating that the numbers were stacked heavily against the BJP.
The alliance, which is expected to have a Common Minimum Programme (CMP), was stitched after hectic parleys involving Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Once being the only second chief minister in Maharashtra to complete the full five-year term, Fadnavis now holds the dubious distinction of being the CM with the
shortest tenure of four days in the last 59 years.
The 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' comprising the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress, has rallied behind Uddhav Thackeray, who is not a member of the state legislature.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut claimed the BJP made 'barbaric attempts' to retain power in Maharashtra but the state's people foiled it, marking the beginning of a change in the country's politics.
Raut said it will not be surprising if the Shiv Sena forms government at the Centre after having installed its chief minister (Uddhav Thackeray) in Maharashtra.
Raut, who addressed the media regularly over the past one month as he took the BJP head-on, aggressively putting forth his party's side, also said that he would not be holding regular press briefings from Thursday and revert to his work pertaining to the Sena's mouthpiece Saamana.
The Rajya Sabha member is also the executive editor of Marathi daily Saamana.
Asked who all will be invited for Thackeray's oath-taking ceremony on Thursday, he said, "My responsibility will be lesser now. I will not speak to you (media) tomorrow onwards... I will start doing my original work in Saamana... all these decisions will be taken by the new chief minister."
Senior Congress leaders including Ahmed Patel met Sharad Pawar at his Silver Oak residence in south Mumbai on Wednesday to discuss issues pertaining to Maharashtra's ministerial council and oath-taking ceremony.
Uddhav Thackeray along with wife Rashmi met Koshyari at Raj Bhavan on Wednesday.
The Bombay high court on Wednesday raised security concerns over the swearing-in ceremony of Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister at Shivaji Park, and said holding such events at a public ground should not become a regular feature.
"We do not want to say anything about tomorrow's ceremony...we are only praying that nothing untoward happens," the court said while hearing a plea on whether the Shivaji Park was a playground or a recreation ground.