Mumbai: A day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray rang up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and complained about attempts to undermine his position, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has urged the Election Commission to order elections to the 9 vacant seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Council at the earliest.
This is a relief for Uddhav who was hoping to become a member of the Maharashtra Assembly by getting elected on one of the nine seats before May 28. If he fails to enter the state assembly as an MLA or MLC by then, he will have to vacate the post of the chief minister.
Political observers feel that with the Governor’s move, Thackeray’s induction is a distant possibility. The ball is now in the EC’s court, which has to consider whether the relaxed lockdown conditions are conducive for an election. In his communication, the Governor has requested the EC to soon release the poll schedule to fill up the 9 seats in the Legislative Council that have been lying vacant since April 24. This is necessary to end the current uncertainty in the state.
The EC had postponed the elections, until further orders, because of the lockdown. The Governor has pointed out that the Centre has announced many relaxations. As such, he feels, the elections to the Council can be held within certain parameters. Before the pandemic struck, Thackeray's plan was to get elected to the council in a March 26 election. However, the polls were postponed in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Thereafter, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had submitted two letters on April 9 and on April 28 urging the Governor to clear Thackeray’s nomination in the council from his quota, but the latter has been noncommittal.
Meanwhile, the leader of opposition in the state assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, has hailed the Governor’s decision to seek immediate elections, rather than nominating Thackeray in the Council.
He wished Thackeray the best and said that he hoped the EC will hold elections for the 9 vacant seats at the earliest. He added that the Governor had adhered to the rules by not nominating a minister or chief minister to the state council.