Disgruntlement within MVA over ‘unequal distribution’ of funds
In what could be a sign of continuing unease among the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners, Shiv Sena MLA Tanaji Sawant on Monday said his party was getting secondary treatment as it got only 16% of the budgetary allocations, while the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had the lion’s share
In what could be a sign of continuing unease among the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners, Shiv Sena MLA Tanaji Sawant on Monday said his party was getting secondary treatment as it got only 16% of the budgetary allocations, while the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had the lion’s share.
Dealing another embarrassing blow to the MVA, Congress leader Arif Naseem Khan has moved the Supreme Court against chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and transport minister Anil Parab for allegedly violating the model code of conduct during the 2019 Assembly elections in which Khan was defeated by Sena’s Dilip Lande.
In the recently concluded budget session of the state legislature, around 20 Sena MLAs from rural Maharashtra had written to Thackeray over lower allocation of funds. In the two-and-a-half years of the MVA government, the Congress has repeatedly expressed unhappiness over unequal distribution of funds to its legislators.
“We [Shiv Sena] are getting secondary treatment in the alliance and that has been reflected in the budget as well. Around 55%-60% of the budgetary allocations go to the NCP, around 30% goes to the Congress, while the Sena gets 16%. Of the 16%, only 10% is towards development and the rest is for salaries,” Sawant told Yuva Sena functionaries in Solapur.
Sawant, a former minister in the erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Sena government, said NCP gram panchayat members went to rural development minister Hasan Mushrif to get approval for development works worth crores of rupees, while nothing was left for the Sena. “They [NCP and Congress] came to power because of us and now they are trying to sideline us; this will not be tolerated. The two parties must get this message: when we are together our expectation is you won’t target us. You have an opponent [in an apparent reference to the BJP] or it is an opponent for namesake and you are hand in glove with them?” Sawant asked.
Tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray on Tuesday said there were minor issues in some areas but the leadership of Sena and MVA would resolve them. “The experiment of MVA done in 2019 is successful from the political point of view and for the development of the state. But at some places, where two parties contested fiercely against one another, there are bound to be some minor issues and we resolve them. In politics, such things happen, but the important thing is we have come together for the development of Maharashtra,” he said.
The Sena joined hands with the NCP and the Congress to form the MVA government in the 2019 Assembly polls after walking out of its three-decade alliance with the BJP.
Thackeray said what Sawant said at the event was the Paranda MLA’s personal opinion. About the unrest among the Sena’s rural MLAs, the minister said, “We have spoken to all MPs and legislators and we have tried to give justice to everybody in this budget. Our efforts are to not discriminate in any constituency. During the recent session [of the legislature], we interacted with legislators; some wanted funds for important schemes and when that did not happen, they were upset, which is understandable. However, it is our responsibility and effort to resolve the issues.”
Speaking on the disproportionate allocation of funds to the departments held by the NCP, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar recently said in the Assembly: “It is not true that the major share has been allocated to the departments under my party. It appears more because the finance department is with us. The expenditure on salary, pension to government employees and the interest paid on debt, which together account for about 60% of the state revenue, are from the finance department’s allocation. We have not done injustice to our allies or departments under them.”
In what points to tensions between the Sena and the Congress, Khan has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the SC against the CM, Parab, and Chandivali MLA Lande for allegedly violating the model code of conduct during the 2019 Assembly polls. Khan is now the working president of the state Congress.
“This is a case from 2019. After the campaign ended, the Sena president, Parab, and Lande held a rally and organised a padayatra, violating the model code of conduct. I had filed a complaint [with the Election Commission of India], but since no action was taken, I filed an election petition in the Bombay high court,” he said. After the petition was rejected by the high court, he filed the SLP in the apex court.
When asked about the contradiction between the Congress being part of the MVA government and the petition, Khan said supporting the government was one thing and trying to get justice was another. “Injustice was meted out to me and the model code of conduct was violated,” he added.
Khan alleged that so far, the MVA had not taken any noteworthy decision, but said that this was because of the Covid-19 pandemic and misuse of Central investigating agencies by the BJP to destabilise the state government.