Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday skipped the meeting convened by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to review the coronavirus crisis and the government’s containment strategy. Thackeray, who got elected unopposed to the Maharashtra Legislative Council last week, has sent a strong signal that he should not be taken for granted and he is prepared for a political battle, if any.
Thackeray sent his close confidant Milind Narvekar instead for the meeting, indicating that when it comes to handling the war against the virus and day to day administration, he is the boss and will not accept an interference from the Raj Bhavan The Chief Secretary, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home), the Director General of Police and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Commissioner were among those present at the meeting. The meeting took place between 7 pm and 9 pm, barely few hours after BJP MP Subranamian Swamy in his tweet asked Thackeray to break the alliance with the NCP and the Congress. Further, the meeting at Raj Bhavan was convened a day after the BJP delegation met the Governor to petition him against the state government’s failure to handle the COVID 19 crisis.
The BJP has announced a state-wide protest on May 22, which was strongly opposed by the NCP and the Congress. By remaining absent, Thackeray also expressed his serious annoyance over the Governor’s refusal to clear his nomination in the legislative council despite the government submitted the recommendation twice to him. Clearly miffed, Thackeray took a cue from West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to convey his resentment over the Governor’s willingness to entertain the BJP at every pretexxt. Shiv Sena sources have questioned the rationale for the Governor to hold a meeting of this nature when the chief minister is in command.
A Raj Bhavan communication said the Governor asked the state government to ramp up measures to tackle the virus in June and July – the danger months -- and craft a special strategy to tackle the pandemic in containment zones like Dharavi. The Governor further asked the government to maintain a dashboard providing handy information about availability of beds, doctors, nurses and para medical staff for the entire state, so that the same could be requisitioned where it was needed most.
He also asked the government to think of incentivising frontline workers like health and sanitation staff, police and ward boys. Moreover, the Governor asked the administration to make sure that no COVID general patients not suffer anywhere in the state for want of medical facilities.