Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. | File image  |  Photo Credit: IANS
Mumbai: The balmy evening of May 10 was a tense one for the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ government in Maharashtra. The alliance partners were staring at a situation that could lead to Uddhav Thackeray resigning from the position of the Chief Minister. But how did they get here?
When Bhagat Singh Koshyari, the Governor of Maharashtra, requested the Election Commission of India to conduct the MLC elections for the nine vacant seats in the state assembly, the EC agreed in less than 24 hours. Political parties decided that only nine candidates would be nominated and all seats would be won unopposed.
As the numbers stood, four seats were to belong to the BJP, while the remaining five were to be shared amongst the MVA alliance partners. That the Shiv Sena would get two seats was clear from the beginning. The more difficult decision of apportioning the remaining three seats was left to the NCP and Congress.
In an unexpected move, Balasaheb Thorat, i.e. the individual heading the Congress team in Uddhav Thackeray’s government, publically stated that Congress would nominate two people – Rajesh Rathod and Rajkishor Modi, leaving only one space for the NCP. This was surprising, considering the Congress party held the lowest number of seats in the alliance. Even more shockingly, the announcement was made prematurely, before the conclusion of the discussion about seat apportionment between the alliance members.
According to certain members of the ruling alliance parties, there was allegedly an unspoken understanding between the Congress and the NCP. By this, the NCP would get preference for seats in the Rajya Sabha, while the Congress would be allowed an upper hand in the State Assembly. However, when the time came, sources in the Congress claim that the NCP did not live up to their promise, if such a promise was ever even made. The argument between both parties heated up to the extent that Uddhav Thackeray threatened not to file his nomination if the issue could not be amicably resolved.
A marathon meeting between the alliance partners followed that evening which resulted in an unsurprising decision. The NCP had got its way, and the Congress was cowed down into giving up one of their seats.
Whether the squabbling ends here, or we’re in for some more charged political drama from the state worst affected by the corona pandemic, remains to be seen.