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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

Will Uddhav take up the top job in state?

mumbai Updated: Nov 20, 2019 00:21 IST
Faisal Malik and Swapnil Rawal
Faisal Malik and Swapnil Rawal

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray may be the face of the coalition government comprising three parties — Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress.

Both the Congress and NCP have been insisting Thackeray take up the top job, but the Sena chief is yet to take a call. There will be stability in the government with Thackeray at the helm, the leaders believe. He is facing a similar demand within his party.

Senior party functionaries and key advisers to Thackeray have asked him to keep the CM post within the family. If Thackeray becomes the chief minister, each of the two parties — Congress and NCP — is likely to get the position of deputy chief minister. “The first choice of the NCP supremo for the top job is Uddhav Thackeray. Pawar saheb believes that his (Uddhav Thackeray) face will be acceptable to all. This is also necessary to bring in stability in the government,” said an NCP functionary. “The NCP chief may give up the demand for the CM’s post if Thackeray gets ready to take it up. In that case, Thackeray may continue for five years.”

This is also convenient for the NCP as the party can avoid having any inter-party differences over the CM’s position as senior leaders would not be locked in a bitter tussle over the post. “Thackeray will be a better option in case we reach an agreement over forming a coalition government. It will also bring stability as running a coalition government is not easy,” said a Congress functionary on Tuesday.

Apart from Thackeray, the Sena has alternative candidates in Thane strongman Eknath Shinde and senior party leader Subhash Desai, a Thackeray family loyalist. Thackeray’s son and debutant legislator Aaditya was earlier projected as the chief minister face of the party. However, in the renewed political dynamic in light of the BJP-Sena fallout, the Sena is not keen. Thackeray has earlier said the 29-year-old MLA should get experience in governance. Shinde, a four-time MLA from Thane, has time and again exhibited his strength, but the party leadership is not keen to promote a mass leader to the top post. It fears a mass leader could split the party like how Narayan Rane did, when he was thrown out of the party by the Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray.

According to a party functionary, Thackeray is keen on giving the post to Desai, who is the party’s trusted lieutenant since Bal Thackeray’s era. However, if the top post goes to Desai, Thackeray runs the risk dividing the party, as Shinde enjoys the support of many MLAs. If Thackeray decides to take the top post, he would have to get elected to either of the Houses within six months of being sworn in as the CM.

Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Tuesday said: “It is our wish and demand that the new government should be led by Uddhav Thackeray. We (party leader) and the people of Maharashtra, including farmers and youth, want Uddhav ji to lead the government.”

For Thackeray, the major problem is his health issues, as the CM’s position is a 24-hour job. To make it easy, the NCP has suggested Thackeray should not take up any portfolio, just like Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. “He can handle the government as a chief minister and [with such an arrangement] he will be not answerable for anything. This will help him run the government without taking a lot of stress,” said another senior NCP leader.

“He will be mindful that this would be a shaky government. He would not want a tag as a failed CM. He would want to remain outside the government to resolve issues between the parties. If he enters the government, it would kill the charm of Thackerays as kingmakers,” said Surendra Jondhale, an analyst.