Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown.’
Shiv Sena Chief and new Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray must have understood the meaning of this phrase in its true sense by now, given the fact that before assuming charge, he had no experience of any administrative post.
It is well known that after nearly a month-long drama, Shiv Sena emerged victorious. However, this new post brings with it a pile of challenges for Thackeray.
Thackeray is well versed with the difference between running a government with the remote control in one’s own hand – like his father Bal Thackeray had – and taking decisions by being a part of the system.
Which is why, ahead of his oath-taking ceremony, he politely admitted that a CM’s post has its own burdens. Let’s take a look at all the prospective challenges that lie before CM Thackeray.
Challenge Number 1: Farm Loan Waiver
Right after taking oath as CM, in the very first Cabinet meeting, Thackeray did not take a decision on farmers’ loan waiver.
However, the way the word ‘immediately’ is used in the Sena-NCP-Congress Common Minimum Programme, it is clear that there is pressure on his government to implement the waiver at the earliest.
Challenge Number 2: Bullet Train
What will happen to the bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad? Shiv Sena Leader Deepak Kesarkar, who was the Minister of State for Finance in the Devendra Fadnavis government, said that farmers and not bullet train project is a priority for the new government.
The local farmers have also opposed the bullet train project. It would be interesting to see if the Shiv Sena-led government will go ahead with the bullet train, seen as Narendra Modi’s beloved project.
Challenge Number 3: Infrastructure
During the Fadnavis government, infrastructure projects worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore, including six metro corridors, were under construction. It would be a challenge for the new government to ensure that work for the same continues.
Shiv Sena’s base is the urban voter. The Sena also heads the BMC, which has a poor image because of the condition of roads and other facilities in Mumbai. In order to win the BMC elections in 2022 and to maintain a positive image of the new government, Thackeray will have to pay special attention to infrastructure.
Challenge Number 4: Aarey Metro Shed
In October 2019, there was a lot of ruckus in North Mumbai’s Aarey colony regarding the cutting of trees. These trees were being slashed for constructing a parking shed for the Mumbai Metro project.
Shiv Sena was against the slashing of trees and the party’s Aaditya Thackeray was leading the protests against it. Now that they have formed the government in the state, there seems to be no future for this project of the Mumbai Metro.
Challenge Number 5: Nanar Refinery Project
Would Thackray see the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited Nanar Refinery Project through to the end? Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray has strongly opposed the refinery project in Maharashtra.
Challenge Number 6: Bhima Koregaon Case
Do you recall the Bhima Koregaon case? After violence erupted in Bhima Koregaon, police arrested several Left-wing activists in 2018. Congress’ Rahul Gandhi had strongly opposed the arrest.
Now that the Congress has formed the government with Shiv Sena, and given the fact that the Maharashtra police falls under the Thackeray dispensation, how will the new government pursue this case?
Challenge Number 7: Hindutva Image
CM Thackeray, in his very first press conference, lost his cool over a question on his party being ‘secular’. He is bound to face this question again. Being in coalition with parties like NCP and Congress and a person who claims to uphold the ‘secular values of the Constitution’ in the Common Minimum Programme, Thackeray faces the challenge of maintaining Bal Thackeray’s Hindutva image and his legacy.
The new government is a coalition of parties with conflicting ideologies. In such a situation it would not be easy for CM Thackeray to keep his allies happy at every step of the way.
Also, after severing the party’s 25-30-year-old bond with the BJP, it would be a challenge for him to work with PM Modi at the Centre.