Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at the Raj Bhavan this morning to wish him on his birthday. The meeting is seen as an opportunity to get the ball rolling on the appointments of 12 members to the upper house of the Maharashtra legislature, which has been a sore point between the Governor and the ruling alliance. The alliance had considered seeking legal help as the conflict on the issue escalated earlier this year and a public interest litigation by a social worker is currently being heard by the Bombay High Court.
Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, "It's his birthday and on birthdays it is not only about receiving gifts and flowers. He can also give a gift to people of Maharashtra by clearing the 12 appointments to the Legislative Council."
In November 2020, the Maharashtra cabinet had sent a list of members to the Governor for his sign off. The list was apparently lost and later found.
In April, Right To Information activist Anil Galgali had sought details of the list. According to the RTI reply, the list was not available with the Governor's Secretariat. Now the court has been told that Governor Koshyari's office has the entire file, including the list.
According to the Constitution, the Governor can appoint 12 members to the upper house, the Legislative Council. These members can be from the fields of literature, science, art, co-operative movement and social service.
Sources say the list includes the name of actor Urmila Matondkar. Ms Matondkar had contested the 2019 elections on a Congress ticket from North Mumbai constituency and lost. The 47-year-old --known for films like Masoom, Rangeela, Satya and Pinjar -- quit the Congress soon after and joined the Shiv Sena in December last year.
Other names on the list include farmer leader Raju Shetty and state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, sources add.
The list has been pending with the Governor since. The state government has raised the issue several times, which led to spats. Last month, the Bombay High Court sought an explanation on the delay.
After Bengal, Maharashtra is the second opposition-ruled state where a politically active governor is seen as taking a contrarian stand.
The 19 months of the Uddhav Thackeray government has been marked by its frequent disagreements and acrimonious exchanges with Governor Koshyari.
In October last year, the Governor had written Mr Thackeray a sarcasm-filled letter, questioning whether he had "turned secular" after the Chief Minister repeatedly postponed the reopening of religious places after the lockdown.
Mr Thackeray had shot back that he did not need a Hindutva certificate from anyone. He also questioned the Governor's meeting with actor Kangana Ranaut, saying "inviting people who call Mumbai PoK with smiles does not fall into my definition of Hindutva".