As Uddhav Thackeray takes oath, his 5 biggest challenges as Chief Minister
As Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray takes oath as the 19th Chief Minister of Maharashtra, a look at the five big challenges for him in his new stint.
Running a rainbow coalition government
Thackeray heads into the state’s top job as the leader of a three-party coalition - apart from smaller parties - without any administrative or legislative experience. His foremost task will be to walk the tightrope with his two new allies, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, and manage different political styles of functioning, administrative priorities and egos of his cabinet colleagues. He will also have to create his own team in the state bureaucracy to guide him through the administrative technicalities. This isn’t going to be easy particularly because many officials in the state administration are seen to have links to either the BJP or the NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Delivering on the grand promise of a blanket loan waiver
After protesting and demanding loan waiver from the earlier government, this is one of the first decisions that Thackeray may have to take. The government will need additional Rs 30,000 crore to deliver on this promise as per preliminary estimates. The Devendra Fadnavis-led government had implemented a conditional loan waiver and disbursed nearly Rs 24,000 crores to banks. This is no easy task with state coffers dwindling and public debt of Rs 4.15 lakh crore.
Watch: Uddhav Thackeray era begins in Maharashtra: The challenges ahead
The Fadnavis-led government had an ambitious plan for infrastructure; the city has projects worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore underway including 6 metro corridors. Thackeray, whose party has an urban mandate has the most to lose if this plan is not taken forward and expedited. The Sena-controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, or BMC, has a poor image. If Thackeray wants to change this perception, he will first have to deliver on good roads in Mumbai. The BMC will head into polls in 2022 and the Sena faces tough challenge from the BJP to control of its bastion.
Addressing unemployment in the state
A key area that all three parties - Sena, NCP, Congress - have agreed in their common minimum programme is to spur employment in the state. They are likely to bring in a legislation to reserve 80 per cent of the jobs for domiciled unemployed youth in industry. But, the government will have to do more than just gimmickry in this area.
Managing state finances
The state finances have taken a hit in the last five years with revenue receipts and state’s own tax revenue falling. Most of the big ticket infra projects have been funded through international loans. The debt of the state has increased to Rs 4.71 lakh crore while this is within the fiscal norms laid down by the centre (15.4 percent of the GSDP), there is a limit to which borrowings can be hiked. If the farm loan waiver is budgeted through borrowings, the debt stock will increase as will interest payments on it.