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CM Thackeray writes to Guv Koshyari says “monsoon session can’t be extended due to COVID-19”

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday wrote a letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, in which he defended the government’s decision of holding the monsoon session of the state legislature only for two days starting July 5, saying that its duration cannot be extended in view of the coronavirus situation.

He also appeared non-committal on holding the legislative assembly speaker’s election during the two-day session, saying there was no “time-frame” for it. Thackeray also urged Koshyari to pursue with the Centre the state government’s demand of sharing the empirical data on the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in order to take steps for restoring the political reservation for the community in local civic bodies.

Recently, Koshyari had written a letter to Thackeray, asking him to extend the duration of the upcoming monsoon and fill the post of the legislative assembly speaker urgently citing the demands raised by a BJP delegation. In his reply letter, Thackeray said the duration of the legislature session cannot be extended in view of the second wave of the pandemic and the threat of a possible third wave. “Medical experts have predicted a severe third wave,” he said.

Thackeray said that taking care of the health of the people and the elected representatives in the state was the responsibility of his government.

He said the decision to hold the monsoon session for two days was taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cases of Delta Plus variant of the virus reported in several districts of the state.

The government was trying to hold the election for the legislative assembly speaker’s post at the earliest, he said.

“It is better if each and every MLA can participate in the election process. There is no point in doing things in haste. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the union health ministry guidelines an RT-PCR test done within 72 hours is held valid. So it is not correct to declare a date in advance for holding the speaker’s election,” the CM said in the letter. Thackeray said deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal is officiating as the speaker and he had overseen the proceedings during the budget session held earlier this year. “There is no violation of the constitutional provision. There is no time frame to hold the speaker’s election,” he added.

The CM also said the government has written to the State Election Commission (SEC), requesting it to postpone the by-elections to Panchayat Samitis. “We are expecting a positive response from the commission in view of the threat of the spread of the COVID-19,” he said.

The SEC had recently declared elections to five Zilla Parishads and the byelections to seats in 33 Panchayat Samitis that were rendered vacant and converted to general category following the Supreme Court verdict quashing OBC quota in local bodies. “We have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to find a constitutional solution to the issue. Empirical data of OBCs is required to provide representation to the community in local bodies. The data is with the central government. I urge you to also pursue with the Centre to provide the empirical data of the 2011 census to enable the state government to take further steps,” he said.

Last week, the BJP held a ‘chakka jam’ or road blockade protests across Maharashtra last week alleging that the state government had failed short to defend the OBC quota in the Supreme Court and provide the empirical data.

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