'If the BJP doesn't want to accept the will of the people, then we will show them what a majority means.'
Maharashtra's Minorities Affairs Minister Nawab Malik has lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for playing "dirty politics" and using the governor's office over Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's election to the state legislative council.
Malik, a Nationalist Congress Party politician, is also critical of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi for applying double standards when it came to relaxing lockdown restrictions in Maharashtra and the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic is playing out its worst in Maharashtra, the BJP and the constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government -- the Shiv Sena, the NCP and Congress -- are engaged in an intense political battle over Chief Minister Thackeray's election to the Maharashtra legislative council.
Thackeray, who was sworn in as chief minister on November 28, 2019, is not a member of either the legislative council or legislative assembly.
The six-month window offered by the Constitution in such situations will close on May 28, before which Thackeray has to be elected to either the council or assembly in Maharashtra.
Senior NCP leader and state Irrigation Minister Jayant Patil met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to find a way out of this Constitutional conundrum on Tuesday evening.
Patil told reporters he was hopeful of ending the impasse over Thackeray's election before May 28.
The earlier plan was to get Thackeray elected to the legislative council, but the Election Commission postponed the election in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Modi.
"Let the Election Commission order a fresh election. We will emerge victorious again," Malik tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.
"We have the majority even now (in the assembly), but if the BJP doesn't want to accept the will of the people, then we will show them what a majority means," warns Malik, who alleges that the BJP is misusing the governor's office to destabilise the state government.
Attempts to convince Koshyari -- who has been a BJP chief minister of Uttarakhand -- to accept the state cabinet recommendation to have Thackeray nominated as a governor-nominated member of the legislative council has so far failed to find acceptance at Maharashtra's Raj Bhavan.
Koshyari has yet to respond to this recommendation made by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on April 10.
Senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut tweeted that 'Raj bhavan, governor's house shouldn't become center for political conspiracy. Remember! history doesn't spare those who behave unconstitutionally'.
Senior BJP leader Chandrakant Dada Patil has opposed the state cabinet's recommendation as 'unconstitutional and contentious'.
Malik says the MVA is prepared to fight the BJP politically and is confident that the state will not head for a Constitutional crisis and Thackeray will be elected to the state legislature.
"We have a clear roadmap ready. Why should we divulge our options to the media? Let the BJP play dirty politics (using the governor's office). We will give them a fitting reply politically," Malik says.
The minister also hit out at Prime Minister Modi for applying different restriction standards for BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and non-BJP ruled states like Maharashtra.
"The central government's guidelines are different for Uttar Pradesh and different for other (non-BJP ruled states) states including Maharashtra. The central government's guidelines lack clarity about what its plans are to revive economic activity once the national lockdown is lifted," Malik points out.
He blames Modi's lockdown policies for the issue of restless migrant labourers desperate to return to their native villages, but having no transportation means to do so.
"Modi's lockdown policies are different for Yogi Adityanath (the UP chief minister) and different for the rest of the country," says Malik.
"We have been pleading with the central government to make arrangements for migrant labourers who want to return to their homes," the minister explains. "There are no restrictions for the people of UP; they can violate all such guidelines (related to the movement of migrant labourers)."
"Let Modi apply the same yardstick to other states and offer the leeway that he has offered to Yogi Adityanath."