The first winter session of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which starts on Monday, will be unique in more ways than one.
To begin with, Fadnavis will be absent for the customary tea party hosted by the chief minister on the eve of the session, as he will be required to attend a meeting of chief ministers on restructuring of Planning Commission, convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
The chief minister has sent letters to all Opposition leaders about his inability to attend the event.
Both the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have decided to boycott the tea party, which may now be jointly hosted by revenue minister Eknath Khadse and parliamentary affairs minister Girish Bapat.
With Sena leader Eknath Shinde resigning from the post of Opposition leader, both the Congress and NCP are staking claim to the post. Both the parties have submitted their documents before the principal secretary of legislature, Anant Kalse.
There is a similar tussle for the Opposition leader in the legislative council. Although the NCP has maximum MLCs (28), the Congress, which has 21 MLCs, too, has applied for the post.
While the BJP’s realignment with the Sena has weakened the Opposition considerably, the latter might corner the government on several issues such as the drought in the state, better remunerative prices for raw cotton, paddy, sugarcane and soyabean, farmer suicides, scrapping of toll and local body tax.
Most of the ministers in the 30-member Cabinet are inexperienced. This, too, may give the Opposition the much-required ammunition to attack the Sena-BJP government.
The government is, however, set to ensure the House proceedings run smoothly.
The opening day of the winter session of the state legislature will see both Houses adopting condolence motions on members of the House, particularly former chief minister AR Antulay.
Both the Houses are likely to discuss the thanks-giving resolution on the governor’s speech to be tabled on December 13 and 14.
The winter session is likely to continue till December 21.