The Symbiotic Survival of Uddhav Thackeray and Maha Vikas Aghadi

After more than a month since forming the government in Maharashtra, a total of 36 ministers were inducted in Maharashtra cabinet as part of the much-delayed expansion. While NCP leader Ajit Pawar took oath as deputy CM, Aaditya Thackeray became the first member of the Thackeray family to take oath as a minister in the cabinet. The Sena-NCP-Congress coalition which is termed as Maha Vikas Aghadi that came to power after weeks of negotiations between the ideologically incompatible parties, expanded their Cabinet. Aaditya Thackeray is Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s son and the first member of the Thackeray clan to have contested and entered the Assembly. Ajit Pawar is the nephew of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and had briefly broken away to join hands with the BJP to form the short-lived Devendra Fadnavis government. This Cabinet expansion comes 32 days after Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as Chief Minister. Currently the ministry comprises of seven members besides the Chief Minister.

Earlier, when the Shiv Sena and BJP had been allies and fought the assembly elections together, Aaditya Thackeray had been projected as the Deputy Chief Minister. However, when the alliance broke and Shiv Sena tied up with the NCP and Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, his father Uddhav Thackeray became the Chief Minister. Ajit Pawar, a senior leader of Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party, was sworn in as Uddhav Thackeray’s deputy. Sena chief’s son Aaditya took an oath and is also a part of his cabinet. The delay in the Maharashtra government formation was due to a dispute over sharing the portfolios in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress alliance). While the ministerial portfolios are yet to be announced, there is speculation that Aaditya Thackeray will be offered the environment or the education portfolio.

Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is likely to get the public works department. The Maha Vikas Aghadi had framed a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and a seat-share formula in which Shiv Sena would get 15 ministers apart from the chief minister, NCP 14 and Congress 12. At present, the Maharashtra government has six MLAs-two each from Shiv Sena, National Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. From the NCP, state unit chief Jayant Patil and senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal took the oath on November 28 in the state’s cabinet ministry. From the Congress and the Shiv Sena Balasaheb Thorat, Nitin Raut, Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai became the ministers.

The other Cabinet ministers would be Dilip Walse Patil-NCP, Dhananjay Munde-NCP, Vijay Waddettiwar- Congress, Anil Deshmukh-NCP, Hasan Mushrif- NCP, Varsha Gaikwad-Congress, Rajendra Shingane-NCP, Nawab Malik-NCP, Rajesh Tope-NCP, Sunil Kedar- Congress, Sanjay Rathod-Shiv Sena, Gulabrao Patil- Shiv Sena, Amit Deshmukh-Congress, Dada Bhuse-Shiv Sena, Jitendra Awhad- NCP, Sandippan Bhumre-Shiv Sena, Balasaheb Patil- NCP, Yashomati Thakur-Congress, Anil Parab- Shiv Sena, Uday Samant-Shiv Sena, KC Padvi-Congress, Shankar Rao Gadakh, Independent (Shiv Sena quota), Aslam Shaikh-Congress, and Ministers of State would be Abdul Sattar of Shiv Sena, Satej Patil of Congress, Shambhuraj Desai of Shiv Sena, Bacchu Kadu, Independent (Shiv Sena quota), Vishwajeet Kadam of Congress, Dattatray Bharne- NCP, Aditi Tatkare- NCP, Sanjay Bansode-NCP, Prajakt Tanpure-NCP, Rajendra Patil Yedravkar-Independent (Shiv Sena quota).

Uddhav Thackeray who never contested in any of the elections and doesn’t have any administrative experience is trying his level best to control the government fully by taking important decisions independently in the capacity of a CM. The Head for this Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance is Sharad Pawar, sharp/experienced politician but he has given free hand and very calculatedly given the decision making independence to Uddhav Thackeray. NCP/Congress are having different plans/demands with the government though Maha Vikas Aghadi framed a common minimum programme in general it is inevitable to avoid difference of opinion among the three parties in sharing the powers while allotting ministerial portfolios. Since no Minister has been allotted portfolios, the decision if any, taken by the alliance head for the implementation, the ultimate responsibility will be with the CM who will be the answerable person; it won’t affect Sharad Pawar and his image. It is obvious, all the three parties joined together even despite having different principles/ideologies and have formed this coalition government only because they want to be in power and keep BJP out in power games. NCP doesn’t care about any agenda or ideology.

Sharad Pawar is a seasoned veteran politician with a huge fan base in the State (four time chief minister) and now he is the head for Maha Vikas Aghadi too. Congress has maintained its agenda and ideology as the 4th largest party. People thought it will be very difficult for this coalition government to lead Maharashtra to a better position because of several reasons but so far they seem to have proved everyone wrong at this point of time. It is quite clear that the role of Sharad Pawar is leading and impressive to manage CM post for Uddhav Thackeray. It is also proved, regarding the distribution of portfolios, speaker, common minimum programme or whatever needed in giving the shape of government, Sharad Pawar has played a powerful stroke. So, I think, Uddhav Thackeray is more obliged towards NCP or Sharad Pawar and much more committed to give his best as first time chief minister. The most important reason why this government will be stable for five years or rather they have to be stable is to prove BJP wrong. BJP assumed that this government will collapse very soon. So, in order to prove them wrong, the ruling coalition will have to adjust with each other or at least pretend to people as everything is going well.

Already Shiv Sena’s image has been damaged due to the fight for the CM post. If the government collapses, then it will be a tough time for them. I have no hard feeling against Shiv Sena but if we see the reality then the success which they got in State elections, was due to the BJP only. So, Shiv Sena has to struggle to complete the five years without any steeplechases. This alliance needs to sustain if they want to rejuvenate their fading images and political existence. Moreover, Uddhav Thackeray has all the qualities of CM, he receives a lot of support from his coalition partners, he is treated like God by his own party leaders and he has a battalion of speakers to present their parties and leaders views across the social media. Above all, he has one Sanjay Raut inside the party to bend and mend things for him and outside the party, he has Sharad Pawar who can make it happen for him. So, without judging much, let us accept this new government and wait for changes they have promised to us.

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