NAGPUR, Maharashtra: First-time chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is facing the biggest challenge of his administrative career so far in tackling Maharashtra’s growing coronavirus cases, but unless he moves fast, there will be an unexpected political side-effect to the pandemic: resignation.
When the 59-year-old Shiv Sena leader took oath as the chief minister of India’s richest state on 28 November last year, he was not a member of any House of the Maharashtra legislature.
According to India’s Constitution, a minister or chief minister of any state must be a member of the state’s legislative council or assembly. If he or she is not a member of either at the time of swearing-in, they have six months to get elected or resign from the post.
Thackeray’s six months will be up on 28 May, but the postponement of the legislative council elections which were due this month has created uncertainty over his continuation in office at a time when Maharashtra’s Covid-19 case tally has crossed 1,000.
During his decades-long political career, Thackeray—who has received praise for his government’s proactive handling of the situation—has never been a member of any elected body. His son Aaditya Thackeray was the first member of the Thackeray family to contest and win any election, direct or indirect, in last year’s state assembly polls.
The results were followed by days of uncertainty before the Maha Vikas Aghadi, a coalition between Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, came to power with Thackeray at the helm.
A senior Shiv Sena leader put a brave front, telling HuffPost India that the unprecedented situation would not lead to a constitutional crisis in the state.
“There will be a decision on this issue in the state cabinet’s meeting tomorrow,” said Maharashtra’s transport minister Anil Parab.