Alliance agrees on Uddhav Thackeray for Maharashtra's chief minister
If all goes to plan, Shiv Sena president will be the first from Thackeray family to hold the position.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has finally accepted the offer to head the upcoming three-party state government. The endorsement came from Thackeray's close aide and party MP Sanjay Raut after Friday's meeting between Sena, Congress and NCP, following NCP boss Sharad Pawar's statement that the parties have reached a consensus over the Sena president's nomination. Uddhav will be the first from his family, that has given the state three coalition governments, to hold the CM's post.
The Sena chief will go into the job with handicaps such as lack of administrative and legislative experience. His father, Sena founder late Bal Thackeray had preferred to remote-control the governments and had not allowed his family members to get into electoral politics. Uddhav has changed that, having allowed his son Aaditya to contest Assembly polls.
Uddhav Thackeray, the Shiv Sena chief greets his party members on Friday. P.c/ Ashish Raje
However, Uddhav's political journey has been fairly successful in view of the split that was caused by his cousin Raj and the vacuum his father's death created. He kept the party afloat and finished as the second-largest party in 2014 fighting independently against the BJP that had been trying to cut his party to size. He joined hands with the BJP to stabilise the government, but acted more like the Opposition than a ruling partner. The alliance was forged again for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in 2019, but the pact broke when Uddhav demanded the CM's post, sensing an opportunity that the BJP would not be able to form a government without its support. When refused, he made the NCP and Congress friends to form a new alignment that proposes to form a government a month after poll results.
Details on Saturday
Uddhav did not answer questions regarding his nomination to the top post, but said the three parties would give complete information on Saturday. "I don't want to give you incorrect information. We will come back to you with a complete plan tomorrow at a press conference," he said. Raut's statement came much later. "Uddhav ji is ready to take up the responsibility. He has agreed to be the CM," he said.
Congress leader Prithivraj Chavan with Zeeshan Baba Siddique and other party leaders on Friday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
The turn of events post-2019 elections has created a situation wherein the Sena president is left with no choice but to lead the government. His acceptance is seen as a move to quell the infighting in his party and give the government a leadership that could be respected by the Congress and NCP that have seasoned politicians in the cabinet.
Pawar seemed to have impressed upon Uddhav that there was no other option in Sena and for the new allies if they together were to run the coalition of contradictions for a longer time.
It is also said that Pawar suggested on Thursday night that even Sanjay Raut could be made CM, but on Friday insisted that the Sena president takes charge. Earlier in the day, Sena legislators urged their chief to don the mantle even as he expressed his unwillingness. When representatives of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, KC Venugopal and Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawar met him at Nehru Centre later in the day, the Sena chief was asked to head the government.
Uddhav is expected to meet Governor for staking claim to forming the government after the alliance partners finalise a power-sharing agreement by Saturday. The alliance would address a joint media conference on Saturday.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, outside Nehru Centre on Friday, is said to have endorsed Uddhav’s name for CM. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
Pawar said there was unanimity over Uddhav Thackeray's name for the CM's office. "There is no issue over the leadership. Other points will continue to be discussed," he said after the Nehru Centre meeting, indicating that the talks for government formation were not over yet.
"We will give you a detailed programme tomorrow (Saturday). The issue of leadership is not pending," said Pawar.
Promise of Sena CM
Sena legislators and supporting MLAs gathered at the party chief's Kalanagar residence Matoshree on Friday morning to push for Thackeray's chief ministership. Other names in the Sena camp were Eknath Shinde, who was selected leader of legislative party. Veteran Subhash Desai's name was also doing the rounds.
In 1995, Manohar Joshi was asked to lead the party's coalition with BJP. Later, Narayan Rane was given the nod. The moves to form a government gained momentum on Friday after the Congress and NCP decided to get into the three-corner formation.
Talking about BJP's latest offer that Sena should keep the CMO for the first 30 months and also, share 50 per cent berths in the council of ministers instead of going with the Congress and NCP, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said his party wouldn't want the Indra's singhasan (the throne of king of Gods) even if offered now.
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