Mumbai: The Covid-19 lockdown has put the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government in a tough spot. Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Thackeray is not a member of the legislature. And if he doesn’t manage to find a way into the state’s bicameral legislature — either the assembly (lower house) or the council (upper house) — by 27 May, he risks losing his chair.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari is likely to play a big role in how things turn out for the Shiv Sena leader in the coming days.
Thackeray was sworn in as chief minister on 28 November 2019 at the head of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance that comprises the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.
According to Article 164(4) of the Constitution, claimants to any ministerial position, including the chief minister’s, need to be a member of the legislature or become one within six months of appointment.
However, Thackeray had not contested the 2019 assembly election, where his party emerged as the second-biggest player after former ally BJP.
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A nominated ride to the House?
At a meeting Thursday that was not attended by Thackeray, the state cabinet recommended that he should be nominated to the legislative council as the governor’s nominee. The recommendation was made by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar of the NCP.
The governor can nominate 12 of the council’s 78 members. However, the six-year term of these 12 nominees will end on 6 June. Two of these seats have been vacant since NCP leaders Ramrao Wadkute and Rahul Narvekar defected to the BJP just before last year’s election. If Thackeray is nominated to one of these seats, his term will end 6 June and he will have to seek a fresh nomination from Governor Koshyari.
If the governor does not re-nominate him and he loses House membership, Thackeray will get another six months to become a member.
However, a minister in the state government suggested Thackeray’s prospects of getting nominated appeared dim, for now at least.
In December 2019, the minister said, the NCP had asked the governor to nominate party members Shivajirao Garje and Aditi Nalavade to the two vacant council seats. The governor had refused, pointing out that their term would end in six months, the minister added.
“The CM will get about two months if he is nominated. But when the governor has refused to nominate members because they would only have a six-month term, then it will be a wait-and-watch situation for the CM,” said the minister.
Also, according to Article 163(2) of the Constitution, it is not binding on the governor to accept the cabinet’s nomination.
All eyes on Koshyari
Thackeray can also set his sights on one of the nine non-nominated seats whose incumbents have completed their term. These are among the 66 seats where MLAs vote to elect members.
The election to these seats was to be held before 24 April. However, the Election Commission (EC) postponed it on account of Covid-19.
Thackeray’s situation is not without precedent. In September 1995, a month after former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination, his son Tej Prakash Singh was inducted as a minister in the state cabinet even though he was not a legislator.
When he failed to win a seat in the assembly (Punjab has a unicameral legislature) in six months, he resigned, but was back as minister in November 1996.
A petition against his induction was dismissed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, but the Supreme Court eventually ruled against Tej’s appointment.
All eyes will now be on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, whose relationship with the government has been frosty since the drama over government formation in Maharashtra last year. The tensions seem to have deepened since the governor allegedly sidestepped the government to review Covid-19 operations.
On Wednesday, in an interaction with TV news channels, Shiv Sena spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut lashed out at the governor, saying there could not be two parallel power centres. If the governor needs updates on the government’s fight against Covid-19, Raut said, he should speak to the chief minister or the chief secretary and not call meetings with district collectors.
In light of the fact that governors are central government appointees, political analyst Pratap Asbe said the BJP should think twice before making any move to dislodge Thackeray.
“The CM is doing a good job tackling Covid-19. Everyone is praising him,” he added. “The BJP may think twice about dislodging him as CM as he will get public sympathy… Besides, the PM, too, does not want a political crisis now.”
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Governor should make him resign. Let that bastard THUKREY go to hell.
I think udhav thakre should continue, feku bJP & fadvanis is not good, we are doing good since last 6 months,. Every Maharashtra people happy
Forget getting elected. He has been exposed today by the gathering of the unruly mob in Bandra. His leadership qualities on which some mediamen were going gaga, now that he is with Congress and NCP, has been completely exposed. Today Congress and NCP guys were instigating the crowds and we’re more interested in creating chaos so that they could breastbeat on migrant issue. Uddhav Thackeray doesn’t have any powers. The reins of the state are in the hands of Sharad Pawar who is a wicked politician, a curse on the state. Just 3 days ago on directions of NCP minister Jitendra Avhad a man from Thane was picked up from his house by the police (Mr Karmuse), bought to the ministers bunglow and was beaten by Avhads supporters till he almost died. Any other CM in his place would have asked the minister to resign and the media would have created ruckus over it but nothing of that sort happened. Why ? Because it was not the BJP which was involved here so everyone in the media went silent. And since Uddhave want to remain CM at any cost he allowed a ordinary aam admi of his state to be beaten up by one of his ministers goons. If a man can be pi led up and beaten in broad daylight what is the safety of common man ? Can no one criticise the minister in question ? Is that minister fit to hold public office ? Sharad Pawar is his boss. Is Sharad Pawar also not responsible for this most inhuman treatment meted out to an aam admi. Uddav’s silence is shouting from rooftops. The media, including The Print may try to brush thia under the carpet but the people of this state and country will never forget this politics of greed and goondagardi.
SS SHOULD BE TAUGHT A LESSON BY BJP NOW FOR ITS ARROGANCE AND DEMEANING THE BJP WHEN THEY WERE ALLIANCE PARTNERS.
THIS IS THE BEST TIME TO TAKE REVENGE ON SS. RIGHT?
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