Uddhav Thackeray Has a Legit Fan Club. But How Long Can He Continue as Maharashtra’s CM?


Uddhav Thackeray Has a Legit Fan Club. But How Long Can He Continue as Maharashtra’s CM?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Ever since Maharashtra held its state elections last year, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has served as its chief minister. He took the office despite not running for any seat during the November election on November 28, after much drama and a fall out with the BJP. A three-party coalition was formed between the Shiv Sena, Congress, and NCP, with the plan ostensibly being to have Thackeray stand for elections to Maharashtra’s Legislative Council when they were to be held on March 26. However, with the outbreak of Covid-19 in the state, the elections have been deferred, which in turn has caused a chain reaction that has led to a ticking clock on Thackeray’s time as Chief Minister. As a non-legislator, Thackeray had six months to occupy a seat in either the Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly, after which he would have to step down – and those six months will end on May 27.

Now that there’s a question mark hanging over when the elections for the Legislative Council can be held, there is an alternative option available to Thackeray. The state cabinet can recommend that the state governor nominate Thackeray to the Legislative Council, where there are currently two vacant seats. To that effect, the cabinet had written to Maharashtra’s Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari requesting that Thackeray be nominated on April 9. After the initial request went unfulfilled, the cabinet sent a second letter to the Governor this week, on April 27.

As things currently stand, Thackeray has still not received the Governor’s nomination that would allow him to continue in his capacity as CM. This predicament led to Thackeray contacting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, April 29, to express his disappointment with the delays in the process.

With the coronavirus currently rampaging through Maharashtra, a stable government is the need of the hour. The doubt surrounding the future of Thackeray’s term as CM is going to be counter-productive to that need. However, the leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra, former CM and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis has stated that his party is not interested in making a “backdoor entry” to the Maharashtra government, and said that he supports the cabinet’s recommendation to the governor in a report by Indian Express. “I would like to emphasise that BJP would be very happy to see Uddhav Thackeray being nominated to the Council and continuing as the CM. The BJP does not want instability in the state,” Fadnavis said.

Despite the fact that Maharashtra has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the country, Thackeray’s leadership has been attracting praise (well, mostly) for his handling of the state during this unforeseen crisis. Hindustan Times reported yesterday that a lawyer by the name of Tanveer Nizam wrote a letter to both Governor Koshyari as well as the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, requesting them to accept the state cabinet’s recommendation for Thackeray’s nomination. Supporters of Thackeray have also made their voices heard on social media.

With a month left to go before time runs out, there’s still room for twists in the tale. Only time will tell if Thackeray gets to continue as Maharashtra’s CM.