Maharashtra shares precedents as Governor examines Uddhav’s nomination

NEW DELHI: As Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari is mulling over the state cabinet’s 10-day old recommendation to “nominate” CM Uddhav Thackery to the Legislative Council, the Thackeray government has prepared a legal and constitutional dossier on the precedents of governors “nominating” sitting ministers, and even a chief minister, to the Legislative Council in the past, it is learnt.

The Cabinet had sought the ‘nomination’ of Thackeray in view of the postponement of the “elections” to the Council due to the Covid-19 emergency and given the constitutional requirement of the CM to become a member of the state legislature by May 27.

As the Governor is taking ‘the views of his chosen legal experts, the government has lobbed this dossier to the Raj Bhavan through the Advocate General, sources said.

The fact that the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh was recently toppled in the middle of the Covid-19 concerns has further alerted the Maharashtra ruling coalition. Therefore, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government, in the midst of its all-out efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, has decided to heighten the guard against any toppling bid in Maharashtra.

Sources in the ruling side said there has been “at least three precedents in Maharashtra” of the then serving ministers — Avinash Naik, Datta Meghe and Dayanant Mhasake — of various past state governments becoming members of the Legislative Council through nominations by the then governors.

Sources further pointed out that the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1961 — Chandra Bhan Gupta — who was not a member of the legislature too was nominated by the then governor to the Legislative Council of UP.

Sources in the ruling side also said that apart from being a prominent public figure and social activist, Thackeray is also an “ace wildlife photographer”, which adds to his credentials to be a nominated member of the Council.

“The governor would have taken just 24 hours to implement the Cabinet’s recommendation to nominate a CM because the advocate general has already presented all the facts before him,” the source said.

The Cabinet wanted the governor to nominate Thackeray immediately by filling up two pending vacancies in the Council — rather than waiting for the regular nominations in June — as the CM has to become a member of the legislature by May 27.

Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Sunday cautioned the Maharashtra Governor: “The recommendation to the governor is made by the state cabinet, headed by CM Uddhav Thackeray, which represents the mandate of the people. The governor is constitutionally duty-bound to follow the advise of the state government, which has demonstrated its majority on the floor of the House, and not to act as a parallel power centre. There will be political explosion across Maharashtra if any attempt is made to destabilise the state government. The people of Maharashtra are rallying behind the Thackeray government’s successful combat of the coronavirus,” Raut said.

He also remined how the Covid-19 outbreak has led to an extraordinary situation. “That is why all elections to the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council have been postponed, warranting CM’s nomination to the Legislative Council. Mind you, that is why a one-member Cabinet is carrying on in Madhya Pradesh for almost a month now,” he pointed out.

As a section of BJP is reportedly urging the governor not to nominate the CM to the Council for the remaining tenure of the pending vacancy, the NCP and Congress have fully rallied behind the CM and demonstrated it through the Cabinet recommendation. The NCP also withdrew an earlier letter recommending party nominees for filling up the Council vacancies.

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