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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Maharashtra budget session: Opposition set to corner government on ‘failures’

The week-long budget session may witness a heated debate on drought in the state, state finances and reservations for various communities

mumbai Updated: Feb 24, 2019 22:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at the customary tea party held on the eve of the budget session of the state assembly, in Malabar Hill on Sunday.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at the customary tea party held on the eve of the budget session of the state assembly, in Malabar Hill on Sunday. (Bhushan Koyande/HT)

As the ruling and opposition alliances are all set to take on each other, the week-long budget session may witness a heated debate on drought in the state, state finances and reservations for various communities. On the eve of the Maharashtra government’s budget session on Sunday, the opposition announced it would corner the government on its failures, while the ruling combine claimed it had performed better than the earlier regime of the Congress-led alliance over four-and-a-half years.

Opposition parties, while boycotting the customary tea party in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, demanded the state government extend the cut-off of the loan waiver scheme up to 2018. The demand is expected to be raised by the Opposition in the past two days earmarked for the debate on the agrarian crisis. Opposition leader in the Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil (Congress) said the opposition boycotted the tea party in wake of the attack and to protest the government’s “failure on several fronts”.

Vikhe Patil attacked the state government on various counts including failure to tackle drought, implement farm loan waiver, and said the government should not announce “populist” decisions in the interim budget. The six-day budget session of the Maharashtra Legislature will begin on February 25 and is expected to be a heated one as it would be the last before the Lok Sabha elections. Supplementary demands will be tabled on the first day and will be passed on the Tuesday. The vote-on-account, which will have budget provisions till July 31, will be tabled on February 27.

“The state government has failed to prevent farmer suicides in the past five years. Severe drought has gripped the state and we have not seen any relief measures provided by the state in the affected areas. The government has failed to solve the issues and woes of the farmers. The opposition parties are going to demand that the cut-off for the loan waiver be extended up to 2018 so that more farmers benefit,” Vikhe Patil said. Under the current scheme, crop loans from April 1, 2009, to June 30, 2016 are waived.

The government is going to table 11 bills and will have a debate on drought during the session. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the government has begun distribution from the drought relief fund without waiting for the Centre’s disbursal to expedite relief work in drought-affected areas. “Of the 82 lakh farmers affected by the drought, relief funds have been disbursed to bank accounts of 42 lakh farmers. The disbursal for the remaining 40 lakh farmers is in process,” Fadnavis said.

“In the 15 years of their government, 1 crore farmers were given crop insurance and the funds disbursed came to ₹2,931 crore. And in the four years of this government, 2.26 crore farmers have received crop insurance worth ₹13,135 crore. Apart from that, insurances for pink bollworm and other cases. amounting to ₹3,336 crore, have been given in the past four years. The state government has supported the government whenever farmers are in distress,” said Fadnavis.

“Besides that, in the minimum support price (MSP) too there is a huge difference between the two governments. Nearly ₹8,000 crore of MSP has been given in our term, while the previous government just spent ₹450 crore,” Fadnavis added. He also ‘advised’ the Opposition to put their own house (alliance) in order, instead of criticising the BJP-Sena alliance.

Opposition leader in the council Dhananjay Munde (Nationalist Congress Party) took on the BJP over the Central government’s income support scheme, called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi or PM-KISAN, as an “insult to farmers”.

“The Centre’s scheme of giving ₹6,000 per year, which comes to just ₹3.25 per person for a family of five, is an insult to the farmers,” Munde said.

Munde took on the Sena and said that the party pushes for Dhangar reservation only before elections.

“In 2014, before the elections, they wrote a letter demanding reservation for Dhangar. Recently, they met the CM over the issue. Now, we think that they will remember the issue in 2024,” Munde said.

Vikhe-Patil also said he will file a public interest litigation (PIL) against the new development plan for Mumbai, alleging that it favours the builders’ lobby. Asked if he would withdraw the PIL later, he said he was “not Uddhav Thackeray” to make a U-turn, in an apparent dig at the Shiv Sena president who has revived the alliance with the BJP after publicly saying his party would not.

Vikhe Patil reiterated the allegation that the BJP used “Enforcement Directorate’s powers” to force the Sena to form alliance. “We discussed and announced our alliance. They are still in discussion for two months now. They should get their house in order. Our house is fine. For the ruling party, ED means efficient development. They (the opposition) should fear the ED, they have done such deeds,” Fadnavis later responded.

First Published: Feb 24, 2019 22:59 IST