Trouble for BJP this monsoon session in Maharashtra

  • Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jul 13, 2015 16:28 IST

Three months after a confident BJP-led government took over the treasury benches and tabled its first budget, it now faces the monsoon session of the state legislature on Monday. But, political dynamics have changed between March and July and none of it is in favour of the incumbent government.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, political observers said, will have to face his first trial since he took over the reins of the government in the coming three-week-long session.

For starters, the Fadnavis-led government’s image has taken a hit with allegations of scams surfacing against two of its cabinet ministers – Pankaja Munde and Vinod Tawde. This will provide a ready-made issue for the Opposition to hammer the government with from Monday.

There have also been allegations of misrepresentation in election affidavits, with Tawde and water supply minister Babanrao Lonikar under the scanner over their educational qualifications. Another minister, Ranjit Patil, minister of state, Urban Development Department, is now facing similar allegations of lying on oath, with regard to disclosure of wealth.

The poor monsoon is also likely to hit the rural agrarian economy once again, with farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha forced to go in for a ‘second sowing’. The state’s finances too are on shaky ground.

“We know that for at least three days the state legislature will not be allowed to conduct any business. We have tried to pre-empt the attack on our ministers and are prepared to answer all questions,’’ said a senior BJP minister.

But, a scrambled and confused Opposition three months back, has transformed into a united front with the Congress-NCP teaming up to sharpen its attack on the government. At the same time, a rift within Fadnavis’s cabinet has widened, with senior ministers and rivals rarely on the same page as the chief minister. The party’s top brass has also opened up alternative channels of communication with a tier of state leaders instead of relying solely on Fadnavis.

Further, BJP’s ally, the Shiv Sena continues to share a blow hot, blow cold relationship, with a turf war for Mumbai already looming on the cards for the 2017 civic polls.

“This session will test the chief minister’s political management skills. The monsoon session is an opportunity to get important legislation passed; it is also an opportunity to outline his vision for the state ahead of his government completing one year in power. But, to do so, he has to get his cabinet together, get the Sena on board and open communication channels with the Opposition,’’ said B Venkatesh, political analyst.

BJP has 122 legislators in the state assembly and will have to rely on its partner Sena if it has to conclude any important business here. But, it is in the legislative council that the BJP-led government will face the real hurdle with the Opposition having 49 members outnumbering the saffron allies’ 19 members.

Even though public perception continues to be in favour of the Fadnavis government right now, the clock is ticking. The BJP government will complete one year in power by October 31 and then people will start judging its performance.

* The state government has announced the Nabard-sponsored agricultural loan of Rs500 crore to farmers at a subsidised rate of 6%. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Sunday that Nabard-sponsored finance had been restarted after a gap of seven years and would prove to be a boon to farmers in distress

* While turning down the demand for a complete loan waiver to farmers, Fadnavis said the waiver by the then UPA government in 2008 did not serve the purpose, except for helping district banks and financial institutions controlled by politicians. He said farmers should have been empowered by helping them augment their creditworthiness

* Fadnavis said his government had prepared a contingency plan to tackle dry spells of monsoon resulting in crop loss and the possibility of re-sowing. He said of the sowing on 90 lakh hectares so far, the sowing on 23 lakh hectares was facing the threat of re-sowing. He said the government would subsidise seeds and fertilisers in case of re-sowing

* The government has announced it would table 15 bills in the three-week monsoon session commencing on Monday. Apart from the Right to Services Act, the government will also re-introduce the bill proposing regulation of fees of professional courses, the CM said

* The bill amending the BMC Act to allow the civic body to not initiate the hike in property tax to tenements less than 500 square feet was also scheduled to be tabled. The tenements will continue to pay tax as applicable on March 31, 2015, once the bill was passed

* Bill to amend the Factories Act to allow women on night shifts has also been proposed to be tabled in the legislature.

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