2-member state govt completes a month
A decision on expanding the cabinet is expected after August 1, when the Supreme Court hears a bunch of petitions related to the split in Shiv Sena
Mumbai: The Shinde-Fadnavis government completes one month in office today. As no other ministers have been appointed yet, the functioning of the state government, formed under dramatic circumstances, has been impacted. A decision on expanding the cabinet is expected after August 1, when the Supreme Court hears a bunch of petitions related to the split in Shiv Sena.
Shinde and Fadnavis were sworn in as the chief minister and deputy chief minister on June 30 after Shinde formed a coalition government with the BJP by revolting against former CM Uddhav Thackeray. Most of the decisions taken by the two-member cabinet so far have been for the reversal of decisions taken by the previous MVA government and to sanction projects in constituencies of MLAs from the ruling dispensation.
The Opposition has, meanwhile, claimed that people are facing difficulties owing to non-availability of guardian ministers in the districts following floods in many parts of the state. Guardian ministers are responsible for handling the situation in case of a natural calamity.
CM Shinde has, however, denied that work is stuck. “We have taken many major decisions ever since we have taken charge. The state government is standing with the farmers. We have ensured no government work is stuck. The projects that are of interest to the people are not affected,” Shinde said.
In Maharashtra, a government can appoint up to 43 ministers in its ministerial council including the chief minister, which is 15% of the total strength of the 288-member assembly.
So far, the Shinde-Fadnavis government has withdrawn five MVA decisions, including construction of a car shed for Metro 3 project at Aarey Colony, giving voting rights to farmers to elect members of the APMC (Agriculture Produce Market Committee) markets, electing sarpanch (village heads) and municipal council presidents directly through the people and giving pension to those who were jailed during the Emergency in 1975.
The BJP-rebel Sena government has also reaffirmed the renaming of Aurangabad as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, Osmanabad as Dharashiv and Navi Mumbai international airport after late local leader DB Patil that were approved by Thackeray government. Chief Minister Shinde has also stayed all the funds approved for development works since April last year by the previous MVA government in which tenders have yet to be issued.
The administration front has come to a standstill for the last six weeks ever since members of the Shiv Sena began abandoning their party immediately after the legislative council polls on June 20. “The decision making at the administrative level has almost stopped since then. Barring the 465 government resolutions issued in the last 7 days of the Thackeray government, there were no new policies framed by the outgoing government. Only decisions taken were the renaming of the certain cities and the Navi Mumbai airport. Similarly, the Shinde-Fadnavis government too has hardly taken any new decision or framed the policies,” a senior officer from the Mantralaya said.
The officer said that besides staying the decisions taken by the previous Thackeray government, most of the decisions taken in the Shinde-Fadnavis cabinet were ones that had political bearing. “Most of the decisions were ones pushed by the rebel MLAs or the MPs that joined the Shinde camp. A few decisions like the incentive announced to farmers who pay loans regularly were an attempt of one-upmanship to gain political mileage. Files have piled up in many departments that are directly related to people,” he said.
BJP insiders say they are waiting for the hearing before the apex court to see if the MLAs from the rival faction in Shiv Sena are going to face any action under the anti-defection law. Shinde had already been to Delhi five times in the last one month. He along with Fadnavis also discussed the power sharing formula with the BJP high command during these trips.
The opposition parties have started cornering the state government over the two-member cabinet, especially in the wake of floods in many districts.
On Friday, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said flood-hit districts require more attention. “There is a need to focus upon districts that are affected by floods. The farmers in the state are in crisis because of the damage to crops and washing away of farm lands,” Pawar said.
As many as nine districts comprising Ratnagiri, Nashik, Nanded, Hingoli, Wardha, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Nagpur and Parbhani have been badly affected by the floods. From Saturday, the chief minister is starting a tour of flood hit areas.
Leader of opposition Ajit Pawar, who is on a three-day tour of flood affected districts, said that the absence of guardian ministers is hampering relief work. “The responsibility of the guardian minister is important when there is a flood in districts. Unfortunately, the cabinet expansion has not taken place which is affecting the relief work. The chief minister must expand his cabinet at the earliest,” he said.
Fadnavis responded to the opposition saying that the decisions in the previous government for providing relief to the people were getting delayed for over seven months. “But we will do it immediately. Only yesterday we reviewed the flood situation. Around 50% of the panchnamas were completed. In the next one, the process of preparing panchanama will be completed, after which financial relief to affected farmers will be declared,” Fadnavis told reporters.
With inputs from Surendra P Gangan and Dhaval Kulkarni