India’s most inaccessible Chief Ministers

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, June 23: While his days are now almost numbered as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray is widely known to have rarely attended office.

One of the key grievances of the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, currently holed in a hotel in Guwahati, is the inaccessibility of Thackeray.

Even after breaking the family tradition of members not becoming Chief Minister or Minister despite sharing power with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the past, Thackeray kept one tradition and that was rarely stepping out of the home.

Uddhav broke ranks with the BJP despite the pre-poll alliance to fulfil singular ambition to become the Chief Minister.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the unwilling partner Congress fulfilled his dream. But he could never become a Chief Minister in the true sense, staying away from the office and taking conveying of diktats as a substitute for his administrative skills.

When he leaves the Chief Minister’s post, Uddhav Thackeray would leave hardly any legacy in the administration while his term would have seen the worst humanitarian crisis in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic, which accounted for a large number of deaths in Maharashtra, besides one of the biggest exodus of the people from his state who walked thousands of kilometers hungry and much harassed by the police personnel.

The only solace for his tenure was the perseverance and doggedness of the doctors and healthcare personnel who gave the world the Dharavi model to deal with the pandemic.

Uddhav Thackeray’s distance from his party leaders is evident that he had no clues that a large number of his MLAs were in parley with the BJP and deserted his camp overnight. In the end, he may even lose his party and its symbol, which are the legacy of his father Bal Thackeray.

He is, however, not alone, for heads of the family-owned political parties when they come to power have been seen in the past to function as “democratic monarch”.

Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh during 2012-17 was such a monarch, who wasn’t aware of the portfolios of his ministers.

In Odisha, the Chief Minister Navin Patnaik is the reigning monarch of the state.

Political observers in the state claim that the number two in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the ruling party, hasn’t seen the Chief Minister in-person for months.

Navin Patnaik comes to the state Assembly rarely.

The Ministers in the state are known to have not got his audience for months.

The fate of the BJD MLAs can well be guessed.

Similar is the case of the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.

If the MPs and the MLAs of his party, the YSR Congress, get appointments with him, they feel to be lucky.

In Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, the BJD and the YSR Congress enjoy the benefits of the politics of dominance.

Navin Patnaik has no challenger in Odisha. Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has a weak opposition in Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which is another family-owned political party.

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