The impasse between the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and the Maharashtra governor, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari over the nomination of Thackeray in Legislative Council seems to have resolved after the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Thackeray’s fate as chief minister hangs in balance as he has to get elected to one of the two houses of the state legislature by May 27. As per constitutional provisions, a minister or chief minister has to get elected to the state legislature within six months of taking the oath.
Initially, the Aghadi government wanted to elect Uddhav from the Assembly constituencies. Elections for nine seats of MLCs from Assembly constituencies were scheduled to be held on April 24, and Thackeray was to contest the polls. However, the Election Commission postponed the elections in view of the Coronavirus crisis, so the Chief Minister Thackeray wanted to be a nominee of the Governor as two such nominated posts were lying vacant. The state cabinet had submitted a proposal for his nomination to the Governor Koshyari in first week of April, but it was informed recently that no decision had been taken on the plea on technical grounds. The cabinet then passed a fresh resolution on April 27 to nominate Thackeray from Governor Quota.
Besides, a delegation of cabinet members, comprising the deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and the NCP chief Jayant Patil, the senior leader of Shiv Sena Eknath Shinde and Anil Parab, and the state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat and the Maharashtra minister from Congress quota, Aslam Shaikh met Koshyari on Tuesday with a revised state cabinet recommendation to appoint Thackeray to the council. However, Governor Koshyari had remained non-committal on the processing the recommendations of the state cabinet.
This had led to Uddhav to reach out to Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday evening to resolve the crisis.
While talking with the PM Modi over the telephone, the chief minister voiced his concerns and expressed unhappiness over the “politics being played” over his nomination to the legislative council at a time when the state is combating the coronavirus outbreak in the state. He sought the Prime Minister’s cooperation to resolve the constitutional crisis in the state. The Shiv Sena insiders claimed that Prime Minister Modi had assured Thackeray that he would intervene into the matter and ensure a solution.
Modi, a seasoned politician, reportedly told Thackeray that it would be difficult for the Governor to nominate him to the Upper House from his quota before the due date. And hence instead of Governor’s quota, he would ensure that the elections for nine council seats from the state Assembly constituency, which were scheduled to be held on April 24 and later postponed because of COVID-19 crisis, should be held before May 27 so that he would continue as the CM of the state.
It was said that the PMO immediately instructed the state Governor, Koshyari to recommend the elections to EC and subsequently, the union home ministry approved it and rests are history! The Election Commission has now decided to hold elections for the Maharashtra Legislative Council on May 21 so that the CM Uddhav Thackeray would get elected to the legislature to continue as the chief minister.
The decision was taken in Friday’s meeting of the Election Commission. This comes a day after Maharashtra Governor Koshyari wrote to the Election Commission requesting them to hold the elections. The elections will be held after 21 days and before May 27. The nine legislative council seats fell vacant on April 24.
The action of Modi was appreciated by almost all sections of people, particularly the Sena. The EC’s announcement on Friday has given Uddhav too some breather as he will continue as the chief minister. Modi, who also served as a chief minister of a state before getting the top job, knows the problems and difficulties of a state in a federal structure.
By resolving this constitutional crisis even though his former ally, the Sena whose supreme leader is Thackeray, “betrayed” them by making an alliance with Congress and NCP to form a government, Modi again proved that he is not just a politician but a statesman! This happened when the Sena spokesman, Sanjay Raut virtually every day attacked him on issues and took a dig at PM on “silly” matters, whether someone compared him with Shivaji, Trump’s visit in Ahmedabad or his visit to foreign countries.
On the other hand, Modi was regular in touch with Uddhav in the time of Coronavirus crisis. He even personally phoned Thackeray several times and extended all possible help to the state in this time of crisis.
Political observers feel that a section of Sena leaders was impressed with PM’s Friday gesture were saying ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’ and may even change the political course in the state in coming days!