State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Devendra Fadnavis was on Tuesday elected the new chief minister of Maharashtra.
Fadnavis, 44, was selected the legislative party leader by the new BJP MLAs in a meeting at Vidhan Bhavan in the presence of party's central observers, Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and party's national general secretary J P Nadda.
Fadnavis and other state BJP leaders will now call on Governor C Vidyasagar Rao and formally stake claim to form the government.
Fadnavis was the front runner in the CM race from the very beginning, except for a short hiccup when about 40 BJP MLAs from Vidarbha openly backed Union minister Gadkari for the top job.
But the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat reportedly settled the issue by advising Gadkari to remain at the Centre, and Fadnavis to become chief minister.
To ally or not to ally
The Shiv Sena has reached out to the BJP, striking a reconciliatory note in its bid to join the ministry that will take charge on October 31.
The BJP, which has 122 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, needs 23 more legislators to reach the magic figure. Speculations are rife over whether they would join hands with the Sena, which has 63 MLAs.
One BJP legislator, Govind Rathod (elected from Nanded district), died of a heart attack on Sunday night. With the support of small parties and independents, the BJP's tally is around 135.
At present, the BJP, which is busy finalising its team of ministers, is not willing to concede the Sena's demands for key portfolios and an assurance that Vidarbha will not get statehood.
The BJP had on Sunday told the Sena to drop all conditions and demands if it wished to participate in the government.
The 25-year-old alliance between the BJP and the Sena fell apart ahead of the elections following a dispute over the sharing of seats.
That the Sena was softening its stand was clear when its mouthpiece, Saamna, said on Monday the party would support a BJP-led government as the party had got a mandate.
"We will have to keep our political differences aside and work with the BJP chief minister for the unity of Maharashtra. We have kept ourselves together even in difficult circumstances and it will be better if it remains so," said the editorial in Saamna, which is regarded as the view of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) weakened the Sena's case further when its boss Sharad Pawar said in an interview that his party would abstain from a trust vote, if there was one.
The NCP, which has 41 MLAs, has already extended support from outside to the BJP, which is still undecided on accepting it.
Meanwhile, some reports also said the BJP was prepared to run a minority government.
Swearing-in on Friday
On Tuesday, central observers Union home minister Rajnath Singh, party general secretary (state in-charge) JP Nadda, state poll in-charge OP Mathur and former state in-charge general secretary Rajeev Pratap Rudy attended the meeting of the party's newly elected MLAs to select the CM candidate.
The swearing-in ceremony has been postponed by a day to Friday (October 31) so that Prime Minister Narendra Modi can attend it. A team of 15-20 ministers is expected to take oath.
The Wankhede Stadium is being decked up for the function, expected to be attended by 30,000 to 40,000 BJP workers coming from all corners of the state.