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What is secular? Uddhav on being asked if Shiv Sena has become secular

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, 59, was addressing the media after the first Cabinet meet when he got furious. He was asked whether his party Shiv Sena has become secular now.

Shiv Sena president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday said the meaning of secularism for him is what it says in the Constitution.

His remarks came in response to a question whether the Shiv Sena has become secular.

“Secular ka matlab kya hai? Samvidhan mein jo kuch hai woh hai. (What is the meaning of secular? Whatever there is in the Constitution),” he said in response to a question by a reporter at the press conference after his first cabinet meeting.

The Shiv Sena has committed to “uphold the secular values enshrined in the Constitution” as part of the common minimum programme (CMP) for the Sena-NCP-Congress coalition government. 

“I want to assure the people of the state that we will give a good government. I want to help the farmers in a manner which will make them happy,” Thackeray said after the cabinet meeting.

“I have asked officials to provide me with complete information on state and centre schemes for farmers, in the next two days. Once I get all details, I will take a decision accordingly,” he added.

The first decision that the cabinet has taken is to approve Rs 20 Crores for the development of Raigad which was the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the chief minister said.

Thackeray took oath as the Maharashtra Chief Minister on Thursday. The swearing-in ceremony was held at a grand ceremony at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park.

Uddhav is the third leader from the Shiv Sena after Manohar Joshi and Narayan Rane to lead the state in Maharashtra.

Three MLAs – two each from the Sena, the NCP and the Congress – also took oath as ministers along with Thackeray. Thackeray was elected as the leader of the Sena-NCP-Congress combine, named ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’, on Tuesday.

Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai; NCP’s Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal; and Congress’ Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut took oath as cabinet ministers in the coalition government of Sena-NCP-Congress combine.

Earlier, the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ released their CMP for the coalition government in which the three alliance partners have “committed to uphold the secular values enshrined in the Constitution” as they promised to bring several schemes for farmers, youth and women.

“The alliance partners commit to uphold the secular values enshrined in the Constitution. On contentious issues of national importance as well as of state importance especially having repercussions/consequences on the secular fabric of the nation, the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress will take a joint view after holding consultations and arriving at a consensus,” the preamble of the CMP said.

The common minimum programme was drafted by the senior leaders of the three parties over the course of several meetings last week. The final draft was then presented to the top leadership of the parties, including respective presidents for the approval.

The Congress’ hesitation over joining hands with Shiv Sena, known for its politics of Hindutva, was apparently overcome by a commitment to uphold “secular values”.

Key promises from the manifestos of all the three parties have been included in the CMP.

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