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A stormy monsoon session ahead

mumbai Updated: Jul 10, 2010 00:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Chief Minister Ashok Chavan will be shifting uncomfortably in his chair on Monday when the state Legislature’s monsoon session begins.

The government is likely to face the Opposition’s onslaught on two major embarrassments in the apex court--the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute and the ban on American author James Laine’s book.

The same day, the Supreme Court (SC) will also be hearing the Best-Five case related to admissions to junior colleges. A disappointment on this front can leave Chavan and his government struggling to firefight over the two-week session.

“Things couldn’t get worse,” said a senior Congress minister requesting anonymity. “There can be little damage control in these cases because it gives the Opposition ready arsenal to badger us with.’’

The recent events have left the government with little defence. The high court decision against the government’s Best-Five scheme left the admissions of at least 16 lakh students in limbo, turning public sentiment against the government. The state went ahead with the government resolution on the issue despite a warning from the Opposition.

The Opposition said the SC’s verdict upholding the Bombay High Court’s decision to lift the state-imposed ban on Laine’s book on Maratha king Shivaji also means the government failed to represent the case strongly.

“We are going to corner the government on these three issues. They all show the failure of the government to address important questions,’’ said BJP legislator Vinod Tawde.

Tawde added that Home Minister R.R Patil made the book ban an election issue in 2004 but was lethargic when it came to following it up in court.

The Shiv Sena is going to target the Congress for its inability to get the Centre to see the state’s point of view on the border dispute with Karnataka. Chavan has taken steps to minimise the damage but that may not be enough.

“I don’t think the Opposition should capitalise on the border issue. Are we targeting the BJP about its party’s government in Karnataka? They can’t ask for resignations over this,’’ said NCP spokesperson and legislator Madhukar Pichad.