Blurred lines: Oppn, ruling parties in Maharashtra choosing roles conveniently?

  • Shailesh Gaikwad, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jul 21, 2015 16:59 IST
Maharashtra minister Prakash Mehta and former CM Prithviraj Chavan on the first day of Maharashtra legislature’s monsoon session at the Vidhan Bhavan, in Mumbai. (HT photo)

For the past few weeks now, Maharashtra's political scenario has been unpredictable. The ruling parties are not exactly behaving like ruling parties, while the Opposition parties are yet to realise that they are in the opposition.

Despite the claims of the Opposition parties that they would corner the government over the issues of corruption and agrarian crisis, the ongoing monsoon session of state legislature has not been much of a trouble for the BJP-led government.

In fact, the Devendra Fadnavis government has got the benefit of a divided opposition, as the Congress and the NCP are not on the same page when it comes to taking on the ruling side on the floor of the legislature. Further, the main opposition party, the Congress, seems to have no firm strategy in place.

In parliamentary democracy, it is the job of the opposition parties to corner the government over the issues of public interest and force it to take decisions accordingly by using various legislative tools.

Unfortunately, in the past few years, the opposition to the government is measured in terms of disruption in the legislature—the more the capacity to disrupt the proceedings, the better the chances of being a successful opposition. As of now, the Opposition parties, it seems, are confused whether they want to be constructive opposition or a disruptive one.

Before the beginning of the session, it seemed like the Congress-led Opposition had enough ammunition to corner the government. The BJP ministers were in the dock over allegations of irregularities as well as fake degree row. However, even in the second week of the session, the Congress seems to be finding it difficult to put the government on the mat.

Privately, legislators from both Congress and NCP are pointing out that the Opposition Leader in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress) has not been able to chalk out an effective strategy to corner the government in the lower house of the Legislature.

Further, the NCP is in no mood to cooperate with him, owing to his feud with party leader Ajit Pawar. The enmity between Pawars and Vikhes is well- known in political circles. Although state Congress chief Ashok C h av a n tried to bring Congress and NCP closer by petitioning NCP chief Sharad Pawar, the attempt of Congress’ Gondia legislator Gopaldas Agarwal to win power in local district council by joining hands with BJP played a spoiler. The NCP, it seems, is not interested in putting the government in difficulty as of now.

However, while Congress is battling these issues, the ruling BJP has something else to worry about. Its alliance partner Shiv Sena is not averse to playing the role of the opposition, whenever necessary. Last week, Sena legislators came down heavily on the government over the issues concerning farmers. This is in addition to the remarks being passed on by Sena leaders against the BJP outside the legislature. The Sena mouthpiece has not stopped criticising the Fadnavis government.

So why is this happening? According to experts, it is the outcome of a hung Assembly.

The BJP could not win majority on its own. It had to take the help of Sena, but gave it a raw deal while sharing power. A sulking Sena is not leaving a single opportunity to make the BJP realise that. The NCP doesn’t want to antagonise the BJP at this juncture. It also doesn’t want Congress to occupy the entire space of opposition party. And as long as the Congress is concerned, most of its leaders are yet to learn how to play role of an opposition party.

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