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Uddhav Thackeray walking on a tight rope every day

It will be very difficult for Uddhav Thackeray to take hard decisions independently in the capacity of a CM since the NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, a shrewd politician, is the head of Maha Vikas Aghadi

After the first cabinet expansion of Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra government, it has been learnt that many leaders of the Shiv Sena are unhappy with the reshuffle including Sanjay Raut, who is a senior leader. He happens to be the elder brother of Sunil Raut. Moreover, many are also upset that the Sena is following the footsteps of Congress and NCP by giving ministry to Aaditya Thackeray. The other Shiv Sena MLAs who seem to be unhappy is Tanaji Sawant. To run a coalition of three parties is not easy, and right now Uddhav is not very strong and capable to manage the show on his own.

Already there was a big jolt to the Shiv Sena when 400 workers of the party joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at an event organised in Dharavi recently. They were upset over party Chief Uddhav Thackeray stitching an alliance with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form a government in Maharashtra.The BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the Assembly polls together and won an absolute majority. BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the Assembly polls together and won an absolute majority. Shiv Sena had been insisting on the post of the chief minister for two-and-a-half-years but BJP said there was no such understanding. Later, the Shiv Sena negotiated with the NCP and the Congress to form a non-BJP government. On 28 November, Thackeray and six others from the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP were sworn-in at the historic Shivaji Park in Mumbai.

Uddhav Thackeray has always been a reluctant politician. When he took over as the Shiv Sena chief from his father Bal Thackeray, many had rushed to write his untimely political obituary. But Uddhav survived and has now triumphed. Till 1996, Shiv Sena was assumed by all to be bequeathed to Uddhav’s cousin Raj. The latter had a penchant for fiery speechmaking having a greater stylistic resemblance to uncle’s onstage persona and was a cartoonist like him. Uddhav, who graduated from the JJ School of Arts, preferred to stay in the background. However, things changed in 1996 when Matunga resident Ramesh Kini’s death rocked Maharashtra’s political firmament.

Kini was a tenant in a building owned by Suman Shah, Raj’s developer friend. Kini refused to vacate his flat. Shah allegedly used Raj’s influence to force Kini to vacate. Kini was later found dead and in 1996, Chhagan Bhujbal, who had joined Congress by then, went to town blaming Raj for the death. The Sena decided that Raj should lie low and Uddhav should be the face of the party. Even when Raj’s star waned, Uddhav was still not seen as a natural leader. Over the years, though, Uddhav has surprised many and gradually consolidated his hold on the party. His first major task, even before he took formal charge of the party, was in 2002 when he successfully ensured Sena’s victory in the civic polls which were crucial as he had denied tickets to many entrenched Raj supporters and yet was able to capture the Mumbai municipal corporation. Uddhav has a close circle of people whom he relies on while taking political calls and is wary of the media. He also relies on his wife Rashmi’s inputs and suggestions that many in the Sena see as another ‘Meenatai’, his mother. Uddhav had realised much earlier than Mumbai’s Maharashtrian population was shifting to other cities and North Indians were taking their place. In a bid to attract them, he started the ‘MeeMumbaikar’ movement and said that all North Indians living were part of the city. It was a significant change from the Sena’s ‘son of the soil’ cry. Close friends of the CM said Uddhav is open to calculated risks.

Uddhav who always worked or lived on his terms is now finding it difficult to take instructions from various leaders, juggling between NCP and Congress is now so easy for him. Perhaps he never thought of facing such issues, this being his first attempt to be a Chief Minister of the State or handle the administration of the State himself. The portfolio distribution of the Sena-INC-NCP has been extended but still the details are not known. Moreover, Uddhav Thackeray cannot control the party as its Chief while handling the CM post. It is the beginning for the Shiv Sena to end up its political career within a very short period because of ‘power greedy’ by disrespecting the people / voters who won’t forget what Sena was doing, all these days – after the election results – and it will definitely be reflected, in the next elections. Uddhav Thackeray has no credentials – academic, political or administrative. He was anointed as the Shiv Sena chief only because he was the son of Balasaheb Thackeray. He has no other claim to fame. He has never stood for any election, forget about winning one. He has no administrative experience in governance or otherwise. Without the Shiv Sena, all he has to say for himself is that he is a wild life photographer and that too not a professional. Obviously, it will be very difficult for him to taking hard decisions independently in the capacity of a CM since the NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, a shrewd politician, is the head of this Maha Vikas Aghadi. Pawar will be controlling the government behind the scene and get things done easily with his vast experience (four times CM in the State).

Uddhav, as such, has no independent stand to execute his work. Very recently, the Shiv Sena has extended support for Citizen (Amendment) Bill (CAB) which was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah. But while the same CAB was introduced in Rajya Sabha, surprisingly Shiv Sena made a walkout and did not participate in the voting process. In other words, Sena started playing a double role and is not able to handle the critical situation whether to support BJP fully or following the stand by secularist parties fully. It clearly shows that Uddhav Thackeray is an immature person. To conclude, Uddhav Thackeray lost his party’s identity / image / creditability / respect from the people / voters and became Chief Minister just because of the lust for power. But how long will his government serve the people will be a big question?

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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