Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday invited ire of opposition Congress and NCP for being unable to attend the customary tea party on the eve of legislature session on Sunday, with both the parties accusing him of "insulting" them by deciding to skip the function.
Typically, the chief minister hosts the tea party for opposition leaders on the eve of the Legislature session and Fadnavis was also supposed to carry forward the custom tomorrow ahead of the winter session beginning in Nagpur on Monday.
However, Fadnavis will be skipping the event as he is proceeding to New Delhi to attend a conference of chief ministers called by the Centre and will not be available here throughout the day. He has conveyed his unavailability to Opposition leaders and expressed regrets for his absence, official sources said on Saturday.
This decision of Fadnavis--the first chief minister of the BJP-led government in the state--has not gone down well with opposition NCP and Congress.
"Agreed that it is the PM's prerogative to hold a meeting. However, if that meeting was in the evening, Fadnavis could have held the tea party in morning and then left for Delhi," senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister ajit pawar said in Mumbai.
"The CM has the services of the state aircraft at his disposal. There is an airport at Nagpur. He could have managed to attend the meeting and then left for Delhi," he said.
Pawar said, "We were in power for so many years. We never insulted the opposition in such a manner."
Congress deputy leader in Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar also expressed shock over the chief minister not being able to attend his own tea party. "This is not the way to treat opposition," he said.
"We might as well not attend the event if this is the situation," he added.
"The new BJP-led Government has failed to address the issues of agriculturists in Vidarbha where farmer suicide has once again raised its ugly head.
"The number of farmers suicides so far this year stood at 568 and a drought-like situation is looming large in parts of Vidarbha and entire Marathwada," Wadettiwar told PTI in Nagpur.
In Fadnavis' absence, the event, a platform for informal interaction between the Government and Opposition, a senior Cabinet minister is likely to host the get together.
This is perhaps the first time a CM will not be meeting Opposition leaders on the eve of a session.
When in Opposition, the Shiv Sena-BJP had regularly boycotted the tea party hosted by Congress chief ministers.