In the budget session, restore the sanctity of the Maharashtra legislature
Over the last two days, the Legislative assembly and council have been adjourned, without getting much constructive work doneUpdated: Mar 03, 2018 11:43 IST
Violence against Dalits, caste clashes, unseasonal hailstorms and pests that have wiped out the rabi and cotton crop, unending farmer suicides and allegations against its ministers are all contributing to the simmering rural discontent in Maharashtra.
There is clearly much to debate and resolve in the budget session of Maharashtra’s legislature that opened on February 26. Given that the 288 legislators will face polls in at most another year and a half, one expects a more cohesive and aggressive Opposition and a more prepared government in this five-week-long session.
But what has been witnessed from the press gallery ever since the session began suggests many opportunities lost for both the ruling parties and the Opposition.A host of issues has been raised by the Opposition against the government, ranging from pride in the Marathi language to hailstorms, with the sole aim of shutting down the state assembly or council for the day. The legislative assembly and council have been adjourned; not much work has yet got done.
In the din, the Opposition missed a chance on Wednesday to debate the Bhima Koregaon violence issue in the legislative council even after the ruling party agreed to a special discussion on it. The violence against Dalits at Bhima Koregaon, 29 km from Pune on January 1 had sparked protests across the state. The Opposition, instead of cornering the government on its intelligence failure, chose to force a shutdown of the House over the issue of the chairman not hearing two of their other adjournment motions.
With the alliance between the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party for the 2019 polls all but sealed, the Opposition, after nearly three years of uncertainty, is in a position to push the government on to the back foot in the House. Success here could translate into more confidence and greater morale in the electoral arena. It can definitely improve the inadequate communication channels between the two former allies. Ideally, the Congress and NCP political stalwarts should be able to work out a clear strategy for the coming five weeks of the session. Such a strategy cannot be focused on shutting down the House.
The onus is on the ruling dispensation to answer the questions raised. In the coming weeks, one hopes both the Opposition and the treasury benches get their act together. Beyond their political agendas, our public representatives must use the session to voice the concerns of the people, debate government policies and frame legislation.The state legislature run on public money cannot be an arena for political battles alone.