Uncertainty looms over future of new Maharashtra government

CM Uddhav Thackeray says will stick to Hindutva agenda

Uncertainty looms large over the future of Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government even as it has proven its majority in the State Assembly pushing the BJP to the Opposition benches.

In the first Assembly session, CM Uddhav Thackeray was seen struggling to modify his saffron agenda as he shared power with the Congress and the NCP, while the BJP leaders vouched to turn on the tables and bounce back to power.

The MVA on Saturday showed its strength on the floor of the House with the support of 169 out of 288 members in the State Assembly. On Sunday, the MVA candidate Nana Patole was elected unopposed as the Speaker after the BJP withdrew its candidate from the fray.

However, the 30-year old alliance partners — the BJP and the Shiv Sena leaders — including CM Uddhav Thackeray and his friend-turned-foe Devendra Fadnavis, couldn’t hide their anxiety over the new political arithmetic in the State. Fadnavis was elected unopposed as the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly.

Hindutva agenda

“If you were with us, I would have been watching this (the State Assembly session) on television. I never imagined that I would be here (as Chief Minister),” CM Uddhav Thackeray told Fadnavis during in the State Assembly session. He insisted that his party continues to stick to the Hindutva agenda. “Hindutva was ( our agenda), it is (our agenda) even today,” he said. Uddhav added, “My Hindutva believes in keeping the word.. it is not ( like BJP’s Hindutva) just say Jai Shri Ram and don’t keep the promise”. Uddhav was referring to Shiv Sena’s claim that BJP had promised to share the post of CM with Shiv Sena but later refused that it had made any such promise.

“We were together for many years and I never said that I would be here (as CM)” he said and hoped that Fadnavis and his old friendship would not suffer because of the new political equations. He said that it is a strange situation where old friends for 30 years stand divided and political foes are friends.

Will bounce back : BJP

“I am here as the Leader of the Opposition… but nothing is impossible in politics. If Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP can come together, anything is possible. People have elected the BJP as single largest party and have given a mandate (to form the government). Political arithmetic prevailed over merit. It is not chemistry, but numbers that are important in the democracy,” said Devendra Fadnavis, speaking in the Assembly after being elected as the Leader of the Opposition.

BJP State wing President and MLA Chandrakant Patil announced in the House that Fadnavis will not occupy the seat of the Leader of the Opposition for long and he would soon become Chief Minister. He said that the BJP was not against CM Uddhav and Shiv Sena but against the Congress and the NCP.

NCP divided on Ajit Pawar

The NCP is divided on Ajit Pawar’s role in the new government. Ajit supporters want that he should become deputy CM while a section of party leaders say that appointing Ajit to the post will send a wrong signal.

Ajit Pawar, nephew of NCP President Sharad Pawar, joined the BJP led government on last Saturday claiming that he has the support of all 54 NCP MLAs. However, 51 party MLAs vouched their allegiance to Sharad Pawar and Ajit was left with just two supporter MLAs. Ajit returned to the party and now wants to hold the same post that he held in the short lived Fadnavis government.

Cabinet berths

The State Congress leaders are lobbying strongly to get a berth in the Thackeray-led government. Former Chief Ministers Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan want to hold key positions while the new MLAs also want representation in the Cabinet. The final list of Ministers will be finalised by the Congress high command.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari addressed the joint session of the State legislature and said that the new government will fulfill its promises made in the common minimum programme.