Maharashtra crisis: India’s richest state falls into chaos as chief minister resigns

Uddhav Thackeray had recently emerged as one of the most vocal critics of prime minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and its Hindu nationalist agenda

<p>Uddhav Thackeray’s government had widely been praised in the country for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic</p>

Uddhav Thackeray’s government had widely been praised in the country for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic

The chief minister of India’s richest state, Maharashtra, has resigned after days of uncertainty as rebels of his party aim to revive the party’s Hindu nationalistic politics.

Uddhav Thackeray, who headed the complicated tri-party coalition government in Maharashtra, announced his resignation on Wednesday in an online address, saying “democracy must be followed” in the country.

The move comes after the top court of the country gave green light to a floor test in the Assembly, where the embattled chief minister would have had to prove his majority.

Mr Thackeray seemed to have pre-empted the outcome and chose to resign instead as a group of lawmakers from his party, led by senior minister Eknath Shinde, have been in open rebellion for weeks now.

The fall of Mr Thackeray’s government, which was widely praised across India for handling the Covid-19 pandemic well, has been yet another example of the toppling of parties not aligned with Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Shiv Sena – a party founded by Mr Thackeray’s father and Hindu nationalist leader Bal Thackeray – was a long-term ally of the BJP. It established its politics with a stand against migrant workers, demanding preferential treatment for the native Marathi people.

But over the last few years, following the death of the senior Thackeray, the party grew distant from the BJP, which took a hardline Hindu nationalist route with Mr Modi at the forefront.

In the 2019 state elections, the Shiv Sena partnered with centrist parties and thwarted BJP’s majority, forming a tri-party coalition with Mr Thackeray as the chief minister.

Emerging as one of the most vocal critics of the BJP and its Hindu nationalist agenda, Mr Thackeray created an image of a chief minister focused on governance by increasingly engaging with the media and citizens directly on social media networks and rejecting the hate politics dominating the country under Mr Modi, where Muslim minorities are increasingly becoming a target.

His government also introduced an ambitious net-zero plan for Mumbai, India’s financial hub and Maharashtra’s capital, making it the first South Asian city to have a carbon neutrality goal.

The BJP has repeatedly questioned Shiv Sena’s faith in Hindu nationalism and the recent internal rebellion is believed to be largely stirred by BJP’s backing.

Senior Shiv Sena leaders have also blamed the BJP for the revolt, accusing it of trying to topple the coalition government. The rebel Shiv Sena members have been isolated from the main party and have been staying in hotels in two BJP-ruled states, a tactic that has often been adopted by the BJP before governments are toppled.

However, the BJP leaders have denied this, saying the crisis was Shiv Sena’s “internal matter”.

The rebel members led by Mr Shinde claim the “real Shiv Sena” is represented by the group now, which is far larger in size than the group supporting Mr Thackeray. They are pressing for the revival of their alliance with the BJP and to bring Shiv Sena back to its Hindu nationalist stand.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in