The Mantralaya fire incident is expected to dog the state government in the upcoming two-week monsoon session of the Maharashtra assembly, which begins today.
“A government which could not save its own seat of power cannot be expected to save the residents of this state. We will demand a discussion on the state’s handling of the Mantralaya fire on Monday itself,” leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse said at a press conference organised on Sunday by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to spell out its agenda during the session. Khadse claimed some people still had doubts that the Mantralaya fire could have been an act of sabotage and files pertaining to Adarsh, Lavasa and various other irrigation projects were alleged to have been burned down. The state government should come clean on these allegations, he said.
The Opposition also plans to take the state government to task on its handling of the drought situation. Khadse claimed that the government had, for the first time, increased the state’s contingency fund from Rs150 crore to Rs300 crore. He said: “The state should have made a budgetary provision for this. However it chose to increase the fund just after the budget session. This is not a good precedent.”
The combined Opposition is also set to target the state government— and the NCP leader and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare in particular—over the irrigation problems in the state. Khadse said: “In the last 10 years crores have been spend on irrigation projects, while the total irrigation capacity has increased by only 0.1%. Even though the state is under a debt of Rs2.38 lakh crore, all these projects are being used for the personal gains of some ministers.”
The Opposition is also expected to rake up the Adarsh issue, claiming that leaders like Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde are being shielded by the CBI. “The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charge sheet shows only Ashok Chavan’s name. The other leaders are being shielded by the government through the CBI,” Khadse claimed. Leaders of the BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS put up a united front and said that the two weeks set aside for the monsoon session should be extended to help public representatives raise issues of public interest.