Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's handling of the coronavirus crisis has earned praise | Photo: @OfficeofUT | Twitter
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's handling of the coronavirus crisis has earned praise | Photo: @OfficeofUT | Twitter
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Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in his first stint in government, has left everyone surprised with the way he’s been handling the coronavirus crisis in Maharashtra.

With the government functioning at only 5 per cent of its capacity, Thackeray’s Facebook Live interactions with the people, where he outlines the gravity of the situation and the measures being taken by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, has earned him many admirers. Thackeray is being assisted by an experienced team at the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) and his son Aaditya, who is also a minister in the cabinet.

From a reluctant politician, Uddhav Thackeray has emerged as a general leading the fight against Covid-19. When he took over as chief minister in November 2019, Thackeray was dismissed in conversations as a “puppet in the hands of Sharad Pawar”. But in these trying times, his calm demeanour is helping keep the panic down, say his worst critics.


Also read: What stays open, restrictions, other guidelines to know about nationwide Covid-19 lockdown


‘Best head for Maharashtra’

Kumar Ketkar, senior journalist and Congress Rajya Sabha MP, was never a fan of Thackeray. But the past week has changed his perception of the chief minister.

“Uddhav was perceived to be lazy, complacent and not known for his decibel rhetoric. It was thought that he could be easily manipulated. Even Sharad Pawar has not been able to manipulate Uddhav. He has a mind of his own,” said Ketkar.

“In today’s situation, Uddhav is the best head for Maharashtra, as he brings with him a calm energy and a fresh outlook,” he said.

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Since Covid-19 hit Maharashtra, there have been hundreds of WhatsApp messages, tweets and FB comments praising Thackeray and his style of getting work done. Filmmaker Pankaj Shankar, an ex-aide of Rahul Gandhi, tweeted Wednesday: “Polite and simple words from the chief minister really matters. It reassures your belief system during this crisis. Thank you. @CMOMaharashtra.”

The people are especially happy with the FB Live interactions, as they can hear about the gravity of the situation directly from the chief minister.

“It is as if he is talking to us directly,” said Feroza Sinha, a homemaker. “He is talking to us calmly. I believe him when he says that we will not run of food. I stopped panicking about food after listening to him,” said Sinha.

Savita Kulkarni, a die-hard BJP supporter, has become a fan of Thackeray over the last week or so since he started the FB Live interactions.

“He is so compassionate. He has been constantly telling all of us not to cut the wages of our domestic help, drivers etc. He has been requesting organisations to not fire their lower grade staff and to give them at least minimum wages. I feel the CM’s compassion. This is new to us,” she said.


Also read: I am no fan of Modi, but I support coronavirus lockdown. Opposition should too


Shift in alliance power dynamics

Thackeray’s hands-on handling of the situation has seen a subtle yet strong shift in the power dynamics of the Maharashtra cabinet. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, in his previous stints in the government, used to be a dominant voice. However, today Ajit Pawar has stepped back and only a single voice — that of the CM Thackeray — is dominating the crisis. Unlike earlier, there is no cacophony.

Thackeray’s predecessor, Devendra Fadnavis, was known for a belligerent approach with the allies of his BJP-Shiv Sena Government, which led to disgruntlement and rebellion. Thackeray has managed to hold on to the tri-party coalition firmly, without raising anyone’s hackles.

He is pursuing the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva agenda, but without the old aggression. When the MVA government completed 100 days, the CM went to Ayodhya with his family in a highly publicised event. Allies NCP and Congress maintained a silence on the visit.

When the Minister for Minority Affairs, Nawab Malik of the NCP, announced before the media that the government had decided to grant 5 per cent reservation in education to the Muslims, the CM maintained his cool, saying the issue was sub-judice. He refused to comment further, thereby averting a showdown with the Maratha and Dhangar communities, who are also demanding reservation. Neither the NCP nor the Congress spoke on the issue thereafter.

When the issue of the NIA taking over the Elgar Parishad case started to cause a friction among the coalition constituents, Thackeray stepped in and announced that it was only the Elgar Parishad case (pertaining to ‘Urban Naxals’) which was handed over to the NIA. The Bhima-Koregaon riots case was still being investigated by the state investigative agencies, he insisted. And yet again, the NCP and the Congress took a step backwards.


Also read: Three-week lockdown is PM Modi’s surgical strike against coronavirus


Problem-solving in a crisis

Prior to the lockdown in Maharashtra (which was announced Monday), people from urban areas were rushing to their homes in the villages. However, in the villages, they faced ostracism due to the perception that anyone from the city was a carrier of the coronavirus.

When the CM was told that people were going around announcing in the villages that they will be socially ostracised if they allow their relatives from the cities to stay in their homes, he swung into action.

“All the guardian ministers (Maharashtra appoints one minister in charge of each of the 36 districts; this has been happening under successive governments) were immediately asked to ensure that this social ostracism was dealt with before it went out of hand. The CM is not aggressive, but has conveyed what he wants done to his cabinet,” said a government source.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the simple and humble demeanour of the CM has established a direct link with the people. “He has taken immediate steps with a no-nonsense approach. The state is most fortunate to have an experienced government with him leading it,” said Sawant.

When images of police using batons to hit people who had ventured from their homes were shown to the CM, he ordered the police not to lose their cool. The CM’s instructions, tweeted by news agency ANI said: “If people are moving out for essentials, be gentle with them and ask them not to move out without reason. I am asking the police that we are not stopping people from living, just changing their lifestyle a bit.”


Also read: This is how Modi govt plans to help MGNREGA workers during Covid-19 lockdown


Moderate makeover

Thackeray’s moderate approach has also brought in a transition in the Shiv Sena. From a party known for its lumpen elements and vandalism, the party has acquired a sophisticated makeover, according to Pratap Asbe, a political analyst.

“Both Uddhav and Aaditya are urbane and sophisticated. This has gone down to the party grassroots. Also, Uddhav is still the Shiv Sena chief. His behaviour will set the bar for the behaviour of the rank and file of the party,” said Asbe.

Ketkar said the “true pillar of strength” behind the chief minister is Aaditya, who has not been given due credit.

“Raj (Thackeray, Uddhav’s cousin and chief of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) is still carrying on with the Shiv Sena baggage. Uddhav is non-controversial and cautious in his approach. The people are used to typical leaders who are fiery and aggressive. Uddhav’s calmness is being appreciated by the people,” he said.

Caroline Samson, CEO of Concept Analysis Multimedia sees Uddhav Thackeray more as a family man who is exuding that feeling to the people.

“Today, when we are all locked in our houses with only our family, the CM talks to us gently. He is aware of the perils families go through. He is honest with people. We know he is doing his best,” said Samson.


Also read: Give India’s district officers power to take financial decisions to save lives from Covid-19


 

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43 Comments Share Your Views

43 COMMENTS

  1. महाविकास आघाडी हे एक प्याकेज आहे आमचा त्यांच्या वर पुर्ण विष्वास आहे.
    “उद्धव ठाकरे तुम्ही पुढे जा, यशस्वी, यशवंत व्हा.”

  2. Really??? I means its 45th day and Maharastra is still No 1 in India for corona cases. Uddhav has already have these excuses
    1. More testing is done so more positives
    2. Corona in Maharashtra is asymptomatic (Shows no signs) lol
    3. Unavailability of PPE kits
    4. Centers duty to handle migrants
    He paid Govt employees salaries in Installments,
    His ministers are thrashing people (Jitendra awhad) & shaving heads when being criticized on social media
    Wadwans are getting passes to travel to Mahabaleshwar
    He secured himself MLC seat without contesting under the pretext of Corona. Giving the reason of people or ministers to be called from different parts of states etc.
    He himself went to file nomination with his entire family, during the lockdown. There were so many relatives who stepped outside his home to file a bloody nomination paper, when Uddhav himself urges people not to step out unnecessarily.
    Sadhus being lynched from the hands of Police
    His incompetency gets reflected when he says he doesnt wants army (Centeral force) but then he says he may take help of Center because its putting pressure on Police force. Why not admitting upfront that he needs central force,
    Hospitals video going viral where dead bodies are being kept besides patients.
    What above points indicates is the lack of UT government to handle Corona cases and its there in numbers Maharashtra ranks almost 3 time the state ranking second i.e. Gujarat. Infact Mumbai alone has more cases than any other state.

  3. The previous government failed to handle even a comparably smaller crisis like floods in Sangli Kolhapur Area last year. The corona crisis is a lot more than that and the way it’s being handled, it is our duty to abide and follow the leaders in power. Be it our PM or our CM, both who are in opposite positions politically. The lack in cooperation and nonsensical comments or bringing up communal issues by the opposition in Maharashtra is quite shameful. Love the way Nitin Gadkari recently gave an interview recently which brings people of both political beliefs together. Unity(not physically showing up), rather..United thoughts, like mindedness, is going to sail us out of this as a community.

  4. Salute to our CM Uddhavji T. Sir you have completly surprised us with your positive- no nonsense attitude and firm decision making. It feels our state has a best CM so far. We will stay at home and support you. Be safe. We thank god for give us best CM in corona crises.

  5. When during next elections he dumps CONGRESS and NCP and fight elections with BJP. I would like to hear the same people who are praising him now

  6. More than calm demeanour UT is looking like a Dim Wit trying to copy Balasaheb… he has no great ideas… and looks half interested in whats going on around him… just muttering what has been fed to him by people around him… he looks to have no clue…

    Seriously miss Fadnavis during these action times… he seemed ready with data, new ideas, meeting ground level workers and looked on top of things and in his war room…

    • Rightly said…had DF been there around things wouldnt have been this worse in Mumbai now. Even a highly populated and gunda state like UP i doing excellent work in Covid 19 management which gained praise even in international media. We mumbaikars miss DF!!!

  7. Good Job , Thank your Sir ! very well handled the crisis situation …Most promising candidate for future prime minister ..

  8. Hon.CM of Maharashtra has been doing a great job. He is being assisted by his son who is intelligent and visionary as well like his father. well done UT n AT Sir

  9. Editors has to applaud UT because the print is run by shekhar gupta, every body knows the history of such for writing in such manner…nothing new & special. Power of greed & Lust bonding such unholy alliance.. this is stark reality.

  10. Maharashtra under UT has become a laughing stock in the sense that 1) the farmers are deprived of the amounts being paid by governments like Telengana,AP etc who get about Rs. 4000/ – per acre. The Pradhan mantri samman yojana is being denied to new farmers the list of which has not been updated due to partisan considerations, 2) the centtre’s Ayushman yojana is being implemented in a half hearted manner, 3)the law and order situation in Muslim cluster areas are bad and many are subjected tohafta wusuli and protection money.
    But for all this I do not blame UT as the real CM is Sharad Pawar and he has tobe given credit or otherwise for the happenings in Maharashtra.

  11. First of all CM is honest to the people as being SS parmakukh of his party and committed to the cause of Maharashtra first,
    Able and Capable leaders of INC likes of Balasaheb Thorat, Chavan’s and NCP Jayant Patil, Anil Deshmukh and Ajit Dada under check and by their own compulsion been a great reward to CMO @ MState burucreacy as no hurdles no up manship
    Foremost this being not only the National rather International challenge so no division in approach or partial justice dispension, which otherwise become a point of deflection
    Hat’s off to Matoshree@CMO for raising to the situation time again as was never expected by Mumbaikars by setting much above the set standard and practices of earstwhile CMs

  12. Very nice. Uddhav Thackeray’s demeanor may be calm, but in the end the results you see in the state are the same as anywhere else. In fact Maha and Kerala have the highest number of infected but you still see praise heaped on them. I suspect this would not have been the case if these states were under BJP. The fact is states and administrations across the board have bungled this crisis very badly by not pressuring for tests. But media being so partisan continues to demonstrate beautifully why no one trusts you. And finally Uddhav Thackeray will always be a hindutva man, because the moment he isn’t, he’ll lose all his power and support.

    • Sir Africa has the lowest number of cases.
      Do they have better facilities and administration than USA ?
      Hope u got the point.
      Mumbai and Kerala has maximum no of people coming from foreign countries.
      Mumbai – Eilte rich returning from foreign trips. Kerala Through tourism and Mallus coming back from Dubai.

  13. I have personally never been a big fan of Udhav Thakeray, but his handling of his coalition govt has suprised me.He has been outstanding,calm, reassuring & sympathetic. Kudos to him & his team for their good work & of course their sound handling of the Covid -19 crisis.

  14. We have to love and care people to become like CM Uddhav Thakreyji !! CM is having empathy towards people’s of Maharashtra and you are winning hearts of peoples of because they think you can understand them and their problems and you will try honestly to solve people’s problems. Thats it!! Uddhavji great work 👏👏

  15. Our CM needs to give orders to Police not to beat innocents. There are people who are going out to buy essentials but beaten by Police. He need to ensure that trucks carrying essentials not to be stopped by police. Need to ensure there will be proper supply of food items to retail stores.

  16. Uddhav Thackeray is a surprise package. Never thought he had these kind of administrative skills in him. In retrospect, Uddhav is proving to be a better CM than Devendra Fadanavis, whose handling of the flood situation in the last Mansoon season was found wanting.

  17. Rickshaw aur taxi driver janta curfew se lekar aaj tak lockdown jabtak rahega un ke parivar ka kya hoga jo rojana 12 hours kaam karke apne parivar ka palan poshan without holiday ,I m frm Mumbai un rickshaw driver hamare parivar ke liye hamare CM Uddhav thakre ji ne kya suvidha de sakenge mujhe is comments ka reply dijiye thnk

  18. Ths is all one can expect from the Print and Wire. Although if Mr Uddhav Thackrey is manging the crisis in a n efficient and calm way it is very good but if he was in a BJP led coolition doing the same thing as CM or in any other capacity then I am sure that the Authpr would have failed to see any of his good qualities. That is what leads to erosion in credibity. Now dont say that I am harping on would have or could have been because even now by just reading half the headline one can easily make out from where and which Media House it has originated from. Nonetheless the Author deserves praise for all the hardwork and burning of the mid night lamp in penning such a detailed Analysis and deserves appreciation on at-least that count.

  19. Uddhav CM is cool like a mighty ocean. Staying in opposition for many years and waiting for years like the desert waiting for the rains, to make one of it’s member as a chief minister candidate by coming to a majority. But this didn’t happen but his luck prevailed and he became a Chief minister. His immense experience of handling the tough muslim community and trade union has made his head solid like rock and so he has handled the corono virus transmitted very smoothly. This is called being tough and cool. Thanks for the qualities enriched when are of the age 50 +.

  20. Hats off to Mr Udhav Thackeray for your handling of the present situation . A hands on Chief Minister who has his head on his shoulders and thinks of the common man.
    this will benefit the state in the long run

  21. So far this article is concerned you are rightly appropriate in appreciation of the CM of Maharashtra Mr. Uddhav Thakre . The way his he tackles the problems. The way he handling the trio party Government, with the Stalwarts like Sharad Pawar, AjitPawar , ex CM Ashok raoji, . His critics also appreciate him .

  22. Uddhav proved right person to manage this big State. I think he will become a model CM for all other CMS. Keep it up. God bless you.

  23. The current situation is very well handled in Center by PM and in state by CM. Shri Thakre has been taking hold decisions, handling situation even maintaining cool and mature approach.

  24. Yes true. People especially these media goons start looking with yellow eyes if BJP would have been in power. Stop printing such nonsense news. Biased completely.

  25. There you go again … This article is just about Udhav Thackeray and the way he is managing the crisis … But your political leanings will not allow you to see the brighter side.

  26. A brave and intelligent hard working CM we have in form of Shri Udhav ji we appreciate all his efforts and will give him our full support by obeying his efforts.

  27. Rubbish..nonsense…i dont even want to comment on the political aspect.a party wt 54 seats coming to power wt 2 other minority(seat wise) parties is a murder of democracy(or wtever is left of it in our country)did the people of the state vote for these 3 parties to come together to form a govt…wt they ve done is unforgivable and is a betrayal of the mandate..(if u think im a bjp supporter then u r mistaken)..on the lockdown aspect…
    The state govt was extremly slow…lax measures wtsoever at the mumbai airport…kasturba hosp..less said the better…people who had come from abroad were not checked properly….closing of swimming pools and gyms but at the same time keeping stalls and restaurants open is a unwise decision.just bcoz they r employmnt centric…??..i mean now we r under a total lockdown right..? still even now mumbai or maharashtra is not prepared to handle the fall out if it happens…please dont write rubbish just bcoz u ve the means to do so….
    journalism shd b unbiased and nuetral..to give the reader a nuanced and a balanced perspective..but alas..thats not the case anymore….i think its time i shd stop reading the print too..as others ve become tabloid papers…

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