Besides affecting the physical and mental state well being of people, the coronavirus outbreak may have also created a situation of constitutional crisis in the state of Maharashtra.
The chief minister of the state, Uddhav Thackeray, was elected to the position of state’s chief minister on November 27, 2019. Since he was not a member of either house of the state legislature, it was imperative for him to become a member within 6 months, i.e May 27, 2019. However, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Election Commission had indefinitely postponed the polls of legislative council scheduled on April 24, thereby plunging Maharashtra government into a crisis.
As per reports, in order to thwart the impending predicament, a group of cabinet ministers including NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil, Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde and Anil Pranab, and Congress’ Babasaheb Thorat met with the state governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari on Tuesday with a revised state cabinet recommendation to appoint Thackeray to the council.
However, according to one senior cabinet minister privy to the discussion with the state governor, Koshiyari was non-committal in assuring the ministers of Thackeray’s nomination to the council. With Thackeray’s fate as CM in limbo, the government is considering approaching to the Election Commission demanding early polls to the legislative council.
Soon after the Election Commission deferred the Legislative Council elections in the state amidst the coronavirus crisis, Thackeray wanted to be a nominee of the governor as two such posts were lying vacant. A proposal for his nomination was submitted to the Raj Bhavan on April 9 but no decision was taken by the governor on the grounds of technicalities. The government then passed a new resolution this Monday.
“A cabinet meeting was summoned on Wednesday to assess the state’s fight against the coronavirus. We may pass a resolution urging the Election Commission to carry out elections to the council as early as possible, preferably before May 20. All the social distancing norms mandated by the ICMR will be followed. The EC holds the power of reducing the notice period of the council elections. They should accept our request for the sake of stability of the state government,” the cabinet member said as quoted by the Times of India.
The cabinet member also added that the government was also mulling over the proposal of asking the Supreme Court of the country to suspend the provision of the election within six months. “In the wake of nationwide lockdown, the government has postponed all statutory activities by three months. Likewise, we feel that the top court should also relax the provision of six months as a special case. Thackeray has not been able to fight the elections because of the ongoing lockdown,” the member said.
In the event that Thackeray fails to be nominated on the council, he will have to resign from the post of chief minister. However, Thackeray can be sworn in as CM yet again after he gets elected to either House within 6 months or a new CM will have to be elected.