Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has requested the Election Commission to declare elections to the nine vacant seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Council ‘at the earliest’.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is hoping to become a member of the Maharashtra Assembly by being 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.
In his letter, the governor has stated that since the central government has announced several relaxations in the nationwide lockdown, the elections to the council seats can be held with certain guidelines.
The Election Commission had withheld the election process for these nine seats following the coronavirus crisis.
Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as chief minister on November 28, 2019. He has to become a member of the House by May 28 when he completes six months in office. Otherwise, he will cease to the chief minister.
But election as MLC may not be a cakewalk for Thackeray.
The nine legislative council members will be elected by 288 MLAs of the Maharashtra Assembly. Since the Bharatiya Janata Party is the single-largest party in the House, it can easily win four out of nine seats. Maha Vikas Aghadi – an alliance of Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress and smaller parties, can secure five seats, one of which can be Uddhav Thackeray.
It can be all well for the incumbent CM if he contests unopposed. But if, the BJP decided to field a candidate on the seat then it can spell trouble for Uddhav Thackeray.
Since, a contesting candidate would mean elections, which will at least take 21 days.
For Uddhav Thackeray to save his seat, the elections to the nine MLC seats will have to be declared in the first week of May as Shiv Sena chief has to secure his spot in the assembly before May 28 to retain the top post. Till the mystery of Uddhav Thackeray’s election remains unresolved, the carefully and delicately knit together Maha Vikas Aghadi will remain on tenterhooks.
Can Uddhav Thackeray enter assembly without elections?
CM Uddhav Thackery also has the option of entering the upper house of the legislative assembly by being nominated as an MLC by the governor. To avail that option, the state cabinet had on April 9 recommended Thackeray’s nomination as one of the governor nominees in the Legislative Council.
However, this path may also prove troublesome for Uddhav.
Former CM and leader of the opposition Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday hinted that if an MLC nominated by the governor holds a cabinet or CM post it will be a violation of the convention.
“We welcome Hon Governor @BSKoshyari ji’s decision to recommend the ECI to conduct the election of the 9 vacant seats of Maharashtra Legislative Council expeditiously. We are sure that the ECI, in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs will take decision to take election ASAP,” Fadnavis said.
“This will prevent Maharashtra from going into instability in the testing times of #CoronaOutbreak &will also uphold the values of our Constitution. It will also uphold the convention that a (MLC)member nominated by Hon Governor shouldn’t join the Cabinet(i.e become a CM/Minister),” he further said.