Ruling MVA vs Opposition BJP: Maharashtra budgets for a face-off in session
In the backdrop of a bitter tussle between the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) and Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the budget session of the state legislature beginning Monday is set for face-off.
The stage is set with the resignation of forest minister Sanjay Rathod in connection with a woman’s suicide due to the pressure mounted by the BJP. The two sides are already at loggerheads over various issues, which will be reflected in the 10-day session. The state’s budget will be presented on March 8.
On the eve of the session, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray trained guns on the BJP and the Centre on issues ranging from the goods and services tax (GST) dues to compensation for floods in Maharashtra. The Opposition, meanwhile, has formulated a strategy to target the MVA government on corruption, financial condition of the state, Covid response and agriculture, etc.
Thackeray, while addressing a press conference on Sunday evening, took on the BJP leadership in the state and asked why they were not protesting against fuel prices and demanding pending dues from the Centre. “They have showed agony and rage on electricity bill, but why not the same for petrol, diesel and LPG prices? Why are there no protests? When Modi government came in 2014, the petrol was priced around ₹71. Now it has crossed ₹100 in some states. They have increased cess in fuel and this sum goes to the Centre’s kitty and it is not for the states.”
The chief minister said the state is yet to receive compensation for the flooding in Vidarbha and Nisarg Cyclone in 2020. He added the state is yet to get GST dues worth over ₹29,000 crore. “We are yet to get ₹29,291 crore towards GST dues. The Nagpur division flooding and June cyclone compensation of ₹4,720 crore is also pending.”
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis alleged there was corruption in Covid management, IPS and IAS transfers, etc. Fadnavis said the Shiv Sena skipped Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s birth anniversary following pressure from the Congress. “The CM did not offer tribute to Savarkar. They didn’t say a word on Twitter,” he said.
“First, they should understand which is Savarkar’s death anniversary and which is his birth anniversary. The ones who don’t know this difference are levelling allegations against us, this is laughable,” Thackeray said, in response, adding, “Merely levelling allegations without any proof has become a trend. They said there was corruption in Covid management. The Dharavi model has been lauded across the world, but they are making fun of our Covid warriors by doing this, even as they felicitate them. I have never seen such a two-faced Opposition party,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray also said the BJP leadership in Maharashtra should take up the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute with the Centre and Karnataka government. Fadnavis on Sunday said the Opposition is united with the government on the issue.
“If they are indeed with us, they should take up the issue with the Centre and in Karnataka, where there is a BJP government. In the past five years [between 2014 and 2019], when they were in power in the Centre and state, why didn’t they solve this matter? Today, the state government has taken an aggressive stance to solve it. If we come together, we can give justice to people from the border areas,” Thackeray said.