Now that Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government has won the trust vote, the focus will be on the new chief minister’s performance. It is time for Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to show what he can do. The question, however, is: Will he be able to do it?
As he starts his tenure, challenges are staring at Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
To begin with, there is an atmosphere of uncertainty about his government. Forget the opposition BJP, nobody in the three ruling parties is willing to place bets on the possibility of the MVA government surviving full five years. Most are saying that it will last a year or two. The government has in-built contradictions. Shiv Sena has tied up with Congress and NCP that believes in secular ideology. Sena believes in hardline Hindutva though it has put its Hindutva on backburner now. There has always been an uneasy tussle between Congress and NCP since the two parties share the same support base. Congress leaders are always suspicious about NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s intentions. In private conversations, many of them do raise lingering doubts whether Pawar would pull down the government in a year or two and go with the BJP. A significant section of Shiv Sena leaders also have doubts over Pawar’s intentions. On the other hand, the threat of BJP wooing a section of MLAs is always looming large. BJP leaders do talk about a Karnataka-type ‘operation’ where MLAs from ruling parties defected to BJP and Kumaraswamy government collapsed. Running a coalition government in such an uncertain atmosphere is always a tedious task.
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Expectations versus reality
There are a lot of expectations from Uddhav Thackeray, the first from the Sena’s first family to become chief minister of the state. Thackeray will have to deliver now. Criticising a person occupying the chair of chief minister is easy but showing performance by running the government is a tough job. Shiv Sena has been demanding complete loan waiver for farmers. It had criticised the farm loan waiver implemented by the BJP-Sena government. A complete loan waiver would cost above Rs 30,000 crore. Then there are several promises such as meal for Rs 10 for the poor. This will need a lot more money. The debt burden on the state government is expected to reach Rs 4.71 lakh crore this fiscal. There is not much hope of help from the BJP led government at the Centre. The state government’s revenue collection doesn’t look promising. This would make implementing the promises made by three parties difficult.
Three party mess
The three parties – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – have come together primarily to keep the BJP out of power. They did not contest the election on a common plank. The functioning of the three parties is different. There are chances that the government would get pulled in different directions by the three parties. In several cases, taking decision on key issues could take time as all three partners will have to come on board. The kind of unending discussions the three parties had to carry out before finalising their common minimum programme and working out the power-sharing pact was an indication of the same. There will be several cases where the three parties would have different opinions — right from construction of metros in Mumbai to acquiring land for new projects. Thackeray will be constantly reminded that there are two power centers outside the government, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leadership, who will try to dictate terms to his government. Things may become complicated, there could even be frequent friction over issues jeopardising functioning of the government. As chief minister, the onus would be on Thackeray to handle all of this and run the government.
The BJP is an altogether different party when it is in Opposition With a block of 105 MLAs in the assembly of 288, the BJP will be a strong opposition. It would make functioning of the legislature difficult and launch an aggressive campaign against the government that isn’t going to remain limited to the legislative assembly. If Thackeray fails to fulfill his promises, he will face sharp criticism from the BJP which will try to damage his credibility. Thackeray will have to find ways to counter such a strong opposition party led by a wounded Devendra Fadnavis who could not become chief minister for the second time because Shiv Sena pulled out of their alliance.
Analysts say Thackeray has a tough task at hand.
“As a chief minister, Thackeray will have to prove himself on political, economic and administrative fronts which is a very difficult task. The current atmosphere is not favourable for him,” opines political analyst Abhay Desphpande.
“He will also have to balance between party’s expansion plans (since Sena is no more in alliance with BJP) and maintaining relations with the allies. In a nutshell, he will have to prove his mettle,”he added.