Uddhav Thackeray will be a very Reluctant Chief Minister :- The roller-coaster political ride of Maharashtra have seen so many turns where allies turning into bitter enemies, bitter enemies coming together in unlikely alliance and nephews apparently backstabbing uncles. While Uddhav Thackeray was set to become the chief minister of Maharashtra last Friday. The next day, Devendra Fadnavis upset his plans by taking oath as the chief minister of the state in a surprise early morning ceremony. Eighty hours on, the tables have turned. Devendra Fadnavis has announced his resignation as chief minister and the 58 year old Uddhav Thackeray is all set once again to be sworn in as the next chief minister of Maharashtra.
Uddhav Thackeray Reluctant Chief Minister
Thackeray is going to become the first of his line to hold a constitutional post as his family has been a reluctant politician like him and held various positions in administration and government through proxies.
According to the analysts, Thackeray’s move may have been prompted by the fact that the Sena has been losing ground to the BJP in the state, and by doing this they can hold their position
Interestingly, Thackeray will become the CM with the support of two of his party’s traditional rivals viz. the Nationalist Congress Party headed by Sharad Pawar who is an old friend of the family and the Indian National Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi who needed convincing that supporting the Sena would not harm her party’s secular credentials.
While addressing the 162 legislators of the three parties on Monday in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena chief said, “A wide-angle camera would be needed to capture the gathering. We believe in Satyameva Jayate. We dare anyone to try and break us.”
It is also being said that he was not keen on taking up the post but it was only after the Congress and NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) leaders made it clear that they would not accept any other Sena leader as the chief minister that he has agreed to take up the post. However, in the process, he has given up the remote control.
However, Thackeray will have a very challenging Opposition leader in Devendra Fadnavis because Fadnavis knows the workings of the legislature and the bureaucracy extremely well as compared to the former. Though he will have help from the Congress and NCP while running the administration, but it’s not quite the same thing as walking your own path. It will require complete trust and whether there will be trust between these three highly unnatural partners is still very unclear.
It is believed that currently he is totally relying on Pawar and some of Pawar’s close associates like Jayant Patil and Congress veterans like Balasaheb Thorat who have been long time legislators.
The youngest of Meenatai and Bal Thackeray’s three children, Uddhav was a late entrant into politics. His formal entry in the politics was in 1990 when he attended a party event in Mumbai, 2 years after his father had appointed his cousin Raj Thackeray as the youth wing chief of the party in 1988.
The rivalry between the two grew from the mid-1990s. Thackeray was appointed the working president in January 2003. Ironically, the motion for his appointment was moved by Raj Thackeray to prevent any backlash from the latter’s supporters. The Sena chief had to fight several internal battles including with his cousin, who eventually split the party in 2005.
Despite of the absence of the oratory skills and the charm like his father or cousin, Thackeray is seen a shrewd politician. He consolidated his position within the party by meeting regularly with local party workers and creating a fresh set of loyalists around him, even as he continued to seek the guidance of some party veterans.
After the death of Bal Thackeray in 2012, murmurs grew within the party that the mild mannered Thackeray would not be able to lead the party. But he proved everyone wrong over the years by managing the tough challenges.
In 2014, the Sena managed to win 63 seats, which was an increase of 21 seats as compared to the 2009 polls. However realising that the need for keeping his flock together was bigger than taking a principled stand, he joined the BJP government.
In 2019 too, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Thackeray chose to partner with the BJP, but claimed that this was a more equal alliance. After the assembly elections, the alliance being in the majority Thackeray insisted on a rotational chief ministership which was denied by the BJP. In turn Uddhav got in touch with its rivals, the Congress and the NCP to form an alternative government.
Now he have to face two challenges. Firstly, leading an alliance of three parties and leading a cabinet full of political heavyweights from Congress and NCP and secondly, he also has to grow his party.
Surendra Jondhale, a Mumbai-based political analyst said, “Uddhav Thackeray has managed to keep the party afloat, but if one looks at its vote share, it has not gone up. The party is not expanding. And he will also have to ensure that the government completes the full term.”
However, Uddhav has run a really big risk because if he fails, the Sena will have an identity crisis, if not an existential one. As it has already given up its Hindutva, Ayodhya, Bharat Ratna for Savarkar and other planks, to go back to that will be a big challenge.
Keeping the morale of the rank and file going if this government doesn’t last will be another big challenge as the Sena is nothing without its rank and file.