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Fireworks expected in Maharashtra legislature’s winter session

Fireworks are expected during the two week winter session of the Maharashtra Legislature which starts Monday at the state’s second capital Nagpur. 

The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have already declared they will expose he BJP-Shiv Sena government’s failure and its alleged inept handling since it assumed office only five weeks ago on October 31.

Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance has a comfortable majority in the state assembly, it will need to fulfil promises on a number of issues including the special relief and rehablitation package for the drought-hit farmers, measures to combat increasing farmer suicides, uninterrupted power supply, hike in the procurement price for cotton, soyabean and milk, and effectively handle the law and order situation especially control atrocities on the Dalit community. 

Further, the Devendra Fadnavis led government will also have to hold the winter session for six weeks as promised instead of just two weeks as decided at the Business Advisory Committee. Fadnavis and other members of BJP and Shiv Sena had criticised Congress-NCP government for neglecting legislative work by restricting the winter session to just 2-3 weeks instead of six weeks. 

BJP and Shiv Sena, who contested the Assembly electios separately but have only now joined hands, had also promised the abolition of local body tax (LBT) and toll tax, an issue that the Opposition plans to confront them on. Fadnavis and state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar  had said the LBT will be scrapped once the government is able to find an alternate  cess. In case of toll, the chief minister has admitted that it cannot be completed cancelled but that the toll collection will be made transparent.

”The government is fully prepared to counter opposition tirade,” state revenue minister Eknath Khadse told Business Standard. “The government is quite committed to implement relief package for drought hit farmers. The Centre has already assured its assistance. Besides, the government will hold debate on the backlog of Vidarbha and Marathwada, in particular, based on the Vijay Kelkar committee report.”

Congress legislature party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said the party will play a role of aggressive and vigilant opposition in and outside the state legislature. ”Already, Congress party has announced a morcha on Monday against government’s failure to effectively handle the drought situation in 123 talukas and burgeoning cases of farmers’ suicides,” he said. “The government has failed to do enough for the farmers from these districts and the party will strongly demand a comprehensive relief package. Further, farmers are getting Rs 3,500-4,000 per quintal for cotton, but our demand is for Rs 6,000 per quintal.”  

On the other hand, Nationalist Congress Party’s state president and the state council member Sunil Tatkare said the government will have to implement series of measures to tackle drought and curb farmer suicides instead of just making announcements. He reiterated that NCP wanted the government to institute an inquiry into an alleged multi-crore irrigation scam in which former deputy CM Ajit Pawar was named. Both Tatkare and Pawar have been targetted by BJP and Shiv Sena for the scam which took place during their tenures as minister for water resources.

Meanwhile, BJP-Sena alliance government proposes to take the benefit of the divided Congress and NCP to push legislative business. Both Congress and NCP have independently staked claim for the post of leader of opposition in the state assembly after Shiv Sena joined the government. Vikhe-Patil said Congress with 42 MLAs deserves the post while NCP with 41 MLAs has argued that it has pre-poll arrangement with Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, which has three legislators, and an independent Ravi Rana. The state assembly speaker is expected to give his ruling after the commencement of the winter session.

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