EC agrees to hold Maha Council polls signaling end to logjam over CM’s post

NewsBharati    01-May-2020   
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Mumbai, May 1: In what can be described as Maharashtra Day gift the Election Commission has agreed to hold the elections to Maharashtra Legislative Council paving the way to end the logjam over the continuation of incumbent Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to the post after the expiry of six-month term on May 27.
Acting on the letter from the State Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, the Election Commission held it's meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner participating from the US via video-conferencing decided to hold elections to nine legislative council seats that fell vacant on April 24. The polling will be held on May 21, according to the Election Commission sources.
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“In his letter to the EC, the Governor has stated that the Central Government has announced many relaxation measures regarding the enforcement of lockdown… As such the elections to the council seats can be held with certain guidelines, a Raj Bhavan statement said.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray needs to get elected from one of those seats to become a member of the legislature and to continue as chief minister before his six-month deadline ends on May 27.
As the state government grappled with the ever-increasing number of coronavirus patients, especially in Mumbai, the clouds of uncertainty started to hover over Uddhav Thackeray’s continuance as the chief minister as there was no response from the Governor to the Cabinet Resolution of April 9 and the subsequent requests made by the three components of the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government in the state.
In the absence of clear indications from the Governor to nominate Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to the Legislative Council from his quota, the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP became more aggressive and launched a frontal attack on the Governor.
Maharashtra Congress Spokesman Sachin Sawant made an insulting comment on Governor Koshyari’s cap which is held in high esteem in Uttarakhand from where he comes. The tweet evoked very sharp reactions from the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat who warned the state Congress Spokesman against using such abusive language.
Shiv Sena loudmouth leader Sanjay Raut too lashed out against the Governor through his writings in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ comparing him with Ram Lal, a Congress stooge who was Governor of Andhra Pradesh and who had replaced the then Chief Minister N T Rama Rao on the instructions from the late Indira Gandhi. Later on, Raut tried to whitewash his comments but the damage was done.
"The Maharashtra Cabinet has recommended Uddhav Thackeray's name as a member of the Legislative Council from the governor's quota. There is a vacancy as well. Then who us stopping him (Koshyari) from approving the recommendation? Raut said while talking to a Marathi news channel.
"Raj Bhavan, governor's house shouldn't become center for political conspiracy. Remember! history doesn't spare those who behave unconstitutionally. @maha_governor", Raut tweeted on Sunday.
He, however, welcomed the decision of the Election Commission to hold elections to the 9 vacant seats ending the political uncertainty in Maharashtra. Raut also thanked the Central Government and the Election Commission for this decision.
The EC sources said that the polls will be conducted amidst the adherence to the social distancing and other necessary precautions against the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in the state. The EC hinted at appointing a health department official to assist the State Chief Electoral Officer in conducting the polling process.
The MVA constituents namely, Congress, NCP, and Shiv Sena leaders have called on the Governor on a number of occasions to impress upon him the necessity of appointing Uddhav Thackeray to the Legislative Council from his nomination quota to avoid a political crisis. However, meeting of a BJP delegation led by Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadanvis with the Governor gave rise to speculation and mudslinging indulged in by the Shiv Sena leaders.
This forced the beleaguered Thackeray to seek refuge in Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the last resort and had to telephone him requesting for his intervention on Thursday evening. Thackeray had expressed his ‘displeasure’ over the ‘politics being played’ over his nomination to the Legislative Council.
Thackeray was sworn in as chief minister on November 28 last year and he was supposed to get elected to either of the Houses of the legislature within six month’s mandatory period that is to end on May 27. As per Article 164(4) of the Constitution his failure to get elected to any of the houses would have ended his possibility to continue as a chief minister. The Election Commission had deferred the polls due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown imposed by the government.
Thus, the State Government contemplated getting him nominated to the council through the Governor’s quota but that was not considered by the Governor for best reasons known to him. Now, with the EC agreeing to hold elections, the state is likely to get relieved of the logjam and uncertainty over the CM’s post.