Uddhav Thackeray, president of India’s Shiv Sena party, has been chosen to be the next chief of the country’s Maharashtra state, ending over a month of political stalemate following a hung state election.
The decision could be finalised after Shiv Sena’s arch-rivals, the Congress Party and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said that they had agreed on Thackeray by consensus after several rounds of discussions through the week.
Shiv Sena had fought the state elections in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party against a Congress-NCP alliance. Now, it will lead a coalition government in alliance with Congress and NCP in the same state.
Pre-poll allies, Congress and NCP, won 44 and 54 seats respectively. Shiv Sena could manage 56 seats whereas BJP, hoping to win a majority on its own, could secure 105 seats.
NCP leader and India’s former central minister, Sharad Pawar, said on Friday evening that his party had held successful talks with both Congress and the Shiv Sena.
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena lawmakers met at Thackeray's residence in Mumbai where they insisted that he take up the top post in the state.
Earlier in the day, Congress leader and former Maharashtra state chief, Prithviraj Chavan, was reported to have said that "Talks were very positive. Talks will continue tomorrow."
Coming out of the venue of his party’s internal meeting, Thackeray said: "We have decided on the future course of Maharashtra."
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Governor B.S. Koshyari, who was due to fly to India’s capital city of New Delhi to attend the Governors' Conference on Friday, will stay in Mumbai in view of the latest political developments.
A final decision on the timing of forming the government in Maharashtra state is expected tomorrow, as representatives of all three parties revealed to the media that there would be a formal announcement at a press event on Saturday.
Per media reports, the Shiv Sena will have its nominee occupy the chief minister’s chair for the first half of the five-year term, while the NCP nominee will take over the post in the second half i.e. by the middle of 2022.
The Congress Party, the third political partner in the proposed alliance, is likely to occupy the deputy chief minister's post for the full five-year term of the state government, according to reports.
Maharashtra is currently under central government rule after elections held in the region on 21 October to elect 288 members to the state assembly resulted in a hung verdict, giving none of the contesting political parties an absolute vote majority.
With none of the political parties able to give an assurance on forming a stable government, the governor of the state recommended President’s Rule (the central government’s rule).
On Wednesday, according to media reports, there was a minor hiccup in ongoing negotiations when the Congress Party appeared to insist that the proposed alliance focus on the word “secularism” and that there should be no communal agenda due to the differing ideologies of all three political parties. However, by Thursday morning, the matter appeared to have been resolved.