Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ absence from the customary tea party on the eve of the winter session of the state legislature gave some ammunition to the divided Opposition, especially the Congress, to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intention to restructure the planning commission.
The Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) and others boycotted the party on Sunday because Fadnavis was in Delhi to attend the chief ministers’ meeting on the restructuring of the Planning Commission, convened by Modi.
Taking a strong exception to the CM’s ‘behaviour’, terming it a violation of the constitutional tradition, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre and Congress group leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said it seems Fadnavis is not serious about the issues in the state.
Thakre said the Congress will take out a ‘halla-bol’ morcha to the Assembly on Monday against the government’s ‘casual’ approach on farmers’ issues. However, the Congress could not garner support from other Opposition parties in its tirade against the government.
The NCP, which also boycotted the tea party, felt there should be a better coordination among the Opposition parties. However, it admitted the main dispute between the main opposition parties —the Congress and the NCP — was on the issue of leader of the Opposition.
Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said his party will stake claim for the leader of Opposition position in both the houses because it has a clear majority in the Upper House and its strength in the Lower House is over 45, while the Congress has only 42 members.
“I have sought an appointment of state legislative council chairman, Shivajirao Deshmukh tomorrow and we have sent a letter to the Assembly speaker Haribhau Bagde about our claim,” Thakre, however, questioned the NCP’s credentials.
“It [NCP] is now a part of the ruling alliance because it never opposed the government aggressively. Instead, it openly extended its support to the Fadnavis government,” he said.
Revenue minister, Eknath Khadse, who presided over the tea party on behalf of the chief minister, said the Opposition parties should not ‘oppose for the sake of opposing.’ “There are a lot of issues, especially the problems of drought-hit farmers, that need to be discussed in the winter session and to be resolved. We need their constructive suggestions,” he said.
He termed the opposition boycotting the customary tea party as ‘unfortunate’.