The BJP-Shiv Sena government led by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will be facing its first Assembly session in Nagpur on Monday amid high expectations and paucity of funds in the state exchequer.
The government held a special session of the legislature last month to prove its majority in the Assembly and the winter session will be the first test of the Fadnavis government’s ability to conduct legislative business.
The Opposition is likely to raise issues such as drought, farmers’ suicides and demand for compensation by cotton farmers owing to the fall in cotton prices.
Politically, the government will not have a problem as it has a strong majority of about 200 in a House of 288.
Also, the Opposition is divided between the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party because of their various differences including their claims to the post of Opposition leader in the Assembly.
For the Fadnavis government, the challenge will be to meet the expectations of the people despite the state’s empty coffers. Several parts of rural Maharashtra are facing drought because of deficient rainfall. Drought-hit farmers as well as cotton and soya bean growers, facing a crisis because of a fall in prices, have been demanding compensation.
Revenue minister Eknath Khadse said on Sunday the government would have to slash expenditure on developmental schemes by 40% in the next three months.
On the eve of the session on Sunday, the government faced flak from Opposition parties who boycotted the customary tea-party in protest over the absence of Fadnavis who was in Delhi attending a meeting of chief ministers convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the restructuring of the planning commission. The Opposition Congress-NCP alleged Fadnavis was not serious about solving the state’s problems.
Khadse, who briefed the media after the tea-party, said the chief minister had to be in Delhi because of the important nature of the PM’s meeting as well as other meetings planned for relief to the state’s drought-hit farmers.
The Opposition, Congress and NCP, continued to fight over the post of Opposition leader in the assembly. The two parties did not even come together to work out a strategy to corner the government on issues they would be raising.
Both Congress and NCP have claimed that they are the main Opposition party and want the post of Opposition leader in the assembly. The decision is expected to be taken by assembly speaker Haribhau Bagde.
If the Congress gets the post, its Shirdi MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil will be the Opposition leader. In the upper house, the post of Opposition leader is likely to go to the NCP, which has the largest number of legislators.
The likely choice of NCP for the post is Dhananjay Munde, nephew of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde, who joined the NCP a few years ago. The party leadership also asked state president Sunil Tatkare if he wanted to take up the post but he seemed reluctant, party sources said.
On Monday, the Congress will take out a protest march against the government’s casual approach towards the plight of farmers and other burning issues.