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Mumbai, May 1, 2020
In a significant development, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has urged the Election Commission (EC) to declare elections to fill the nine vacant seats in the state Legislative Council "at the earliest".
These seats have been lying vacant since April 24 and filling up the same would end the current political uncertainty in the state, said an official.
In a letter to the EC, Koshyari said that the Centre has announced many relaxation measures regarding the lockdown enforcement in the country, and accordingly, the elections for the MLC seats can be held with certain guidelines.
"Since the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is not a member of either house of the state Legislature, he needs to get elected to the Council before May 27," the Governor pointed out.
The EC had postponed the election process for these nine seats in view of the coronavirus crisis and the ongoing lockdown.
Political circles pointed out that with this development, the requests of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to nominate Thackeray in one of the two MLC seats from his quota have virtually been rejected by the Governor.
Since the past nearly a month, leaders of the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress have been repeatedly appealing to the Governor to name Thackeray for one of his quota seats to avert a constitutional crisis in the state.
On Monday, Thackeray spoke with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and on Tuesday he called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reportedly on the same issue.
After passing two resolutions to the effect, almost the entire state cabinet led by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had called on the Governor this week and urged him to do the needful.
Besides, several Sena leaders and ministers have also met Koshyari with a similar request, and the NCP-Congress have issued statements to this effect.
A Congress leader said that with the Governor now throwing the ball in the EC's court, the political situation would be clear only after May 3, when the national lockdown is slated to end.
Not a member of either house of legislature, Thackeray was sworn in as Chief Minister on November 28, 2019. Under the rules, he must become a member of the Assembly or the Council within six months.