Political crisis? Sena sets plan amid Guv impasse fears

Shiv Sena readies plan amidst Governor impasse fears in Maharashtra

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. (Credit: PTI Photo)

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has kept the proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for a month now but the Shiv Sena has another month to work out a salvage plan.

The 59-year-old Thackeray is not a member of the Maharashtra legislature. Thackeray, who is the Shiv Sena President, was sworn in on November 28, 2019,  and, as per the Constitutional requirement, has to be elected as a member of Assembly or Council within six months. This deadline ends on May 28.

This is happening at a time when the state is reeling under a crisis when the number of COVID-19 cases is shooting up and Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of cases in India.

The crisis started after the election. The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government comprising Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, has recommended the name of Thackeray for the two vacant seats in the Council from the Governor' quota. It is clear that Thackeray cannot become an MLA or MLC by contesting elections at this stage and the only option is to become an MLC from Governor's quota.

In fact, when the Cabinet met and proposed his name on April 9, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar of NCP presided over the meeting as Thackeray stayed away on ground of ethics and propriety.

So far, the Raj Bhavan has not responded to the proposal and reportedly the Governor has sought legal opinion.

The delay in making him an MLC has created anxiety in the Shiv Sena and the MVA camp.

Earlier this week, Sena Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut tweeted: "...somehow reminded of the ‘shameless’ Governor, the late (Thakur) Ram Lal, who served in the Raj Bhavan in Andhra Pradesh in the early 1980s.....Remember! History doesn’t spare those who behave unconstitutionally. Samajhne walon ko ishaar kaafi hai!”.

MVA leaders have accused the BJP of misusing the Governor's houses for political conspiracies.

The Shiv Sena's strategy is to get Thackeray into the Upper House through Governor's quota - and once the lockdown is lifted the Council polls - that were due in April -  will be announced, which he would contest. If the Governor refuses, the Shiv Sena is ready to move court. The other option is that Thackeray resigns by May 28 and get sworn in again as Chief Minister. This has to be a smooth 24-hour operation, as the BJP will leave no stones unturned to topple the government.

As per Article 164 (4) of the Constitution, a minister,  who is not a member of either Houses, will cease to be a minister, on expiry of six months. However,  there are various interpretation and judgements on the article. 

The MVA does not want to take bay chances of legal wrangles and Constitutional crisis and has decided to get Thackeray elected from governor's quota. Precedents and norms say that the Governor goes with the decision of the Cabinet.  There is still one month to go.