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BJP, Sena MLAs in Maharashtra incharge of house discipline to get cabinet minister status

Three chief whips of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena may soon get the status of cabinet ministers

mumbai Updated: Apr 04, 2017 00:32 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
BJP’s Raj Purohit, one of the three chief whips, who may be given the cabinet minister status.
BJP’s Raj Purohit, one of the three chief whips, who may be given the cabinet minister status.(Hindustan Times)

Three chief whips of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena may soon get the status of cabinet ministers and be entitled to more salary, cars with beacons and plush bungalows. The government has tabled a bill to exclude the post from the gamut of the office of profit to avoid complications like the ones the Delhi’s AAP government faced last year.

Once included in the list of statutory posts mentioned in the Maharashtra Legislative Members (Removal of Disqualification) Act, the posts will be excluded from the ambit of ‘office of profit’. This means whips and chief whips appointed in both the houses, will be entitled to facilities other than those they get as legislators. This, however, as categorically mentioned in the bill, will be applicable only to the chief whips and whips appointed by the ruling parties.

The three chief whips — BJP’s Raj Purohit and Bhai Girkar and Shiv Sena’s Sunil Prabhu — and 14 other ruling party whips will be entitled to additional facilities. The parliamentary affairs department has, however, raised many questions on the financial burden of the move and which department will share it.

Currently, 21 AAP legislators are facing the threat of suspension for holding dual offices of profit. The AAP government had appointed them as parliamentary secretary to assist the ministers. Now, the Election Commission is hearing a case after a complaint was filed by a BJP functionary.

The state government had, in December, moved a file to award the status of cabinet minister to the chief whips, but when the proposal reached the law and judiciary department, it suggested an amendment in the law. “The department cited the example of the suspension of 21 AAP MLAs from Delhi Assembly for holding the post of parliamentary secretary while suggesting the amendment in the Act. By doing this, we will bring the posts of chief whip and whip out of the gamut of the office of profit. Once that is done, the government can issue a notification awarding them a status of cabinet ministers,” said an official from state legislature.

“Both the posts in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are equivalent to the minister and minister of state posts respectively. There is nothing new we are doing by amending the Act. It is not about getting the facilities as the MLAs’ posts keep changing,” said Purohit.

When the proposal was moved by the government, the parliamentary affairs department was not happy with it. “In the previous government, the minister and ministers of state for parliamentary affairs used to hold the posts of the chief whip and whips, so there was no need to have any special status for them. The BJP-led government appointed MLAs to hold the posts. When the demand first came up, we suggested they provide them with a personal assistant and telephone facility on the lines of the facilities given to whips in the parliament. We also suggested that the chief whips be appointed on statutory corporations controlled by the government so that they will be automatically accorded with these ranks,” said an officer from the department.


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First Published: Apr 04, 2017 00:32 IST

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