The Budget session of the Maharashtra Legislature will begin on Monday under the gloom of COVID-19 cases in the state. The opposition has braced with attacks on the ruling government on various issues. The 10-day-long budget session will have eight working days and the budget will be tabled on March 8. Bills pertaining to departments such as revenue, higher education, and home are likely to be taken up. A draft of the Shakti Act, which provides for strict punishment for a crime against women and children, is under consideration of a joint select committee of both Houses.
The state budget session that is usually held for six long weeks now shrunk to ten days due to the current pandemic situation. The BJP lately alleged that the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was trying to curtail the session on the pretext of coronavirus situation to run away from debate on its “failures”. However, the ruling party leaders told that they are all set to counter the allegations made by the opposition. They are here to stay and there is no question of running out of the situation. The opposition should learn to be sensitive and responsible for ongoing pandemic situations many political leaders are detected as COVID-19 positive. The session will start with the address of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to the joint sitting of the state Legislative Assembly and Council.
The state government is going to table supplementary demands on the first day. The House will hold a discussion on the governor’s speech on March 2, while the next two days are reserved for discussion on supplementary demands. The governor has so far not approved 12 names recommended by the cabinet for nomination to the Legislative Council. The Legislature will discuss proposals of opposition parties on March 5 and some bills will also be tabled. There will be no sittings on March 6 and 7.
Member of Legislative Council Parab had claimed that the opposition suggested a one-day session due to the COVID-19 situation, “but MVA has decided to have a ten-day session”. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis recently pointed out that the election of the new Speaker was not on the agenda of the meeting.
The post fell vacant following the resignation of Nana Patole, who has taken over as Congress’s state unit chief. The state Legislature’s budget session was curtailed last year also in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray last Sunday asked to follow “COVID-appropriate” behavior and safety norms and said he would observe for a week to 15 days and then decide whether to impose another lockdown.
The BJP has accused the government of mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis and failure to boost development works.
It will raise in the House the issue of state Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod’s name being linked to the death of the woman in Pune. The BJP had earlier warned that it would not allow the Budget session to proceed smoothly if Rathod did not resign. On Saturday, Maharashtra reported more than 8,000 new COVID-19 cases on the fourth straight day, raising the caseload in the state to 21,46,777. The death toll in the state due to the pandemic has reached 52,092, as per official data. The minister has denied the allegations against him.
The government is also likely to face questions from the opposition over the last month’s fire at a hospital in Bhandara where 10 newborn babies died and delay in helping farmers affected by floods and cyclones in parts of the state. Incidents of atrocities against women in COVID-19 care centres and alleged corruption in various government departments are also likely to be raised during the session. Fadnavis a few days back said the government did not want to be questioned on issues such as “rise in corruption”.