Business Standard

Winter session of Maharashtra Assembly starts today

A two-week winter session of the Maharashtra legislature begins on Sunday, throwing possibilities of being a stormy affair as the Opposition parties are geared up to attack the government on various issues. As for Prithviraj Chavan, this is going to be his second session as his native state’s chief minister.

To dominate the session would be a range of issues. They include an increase in the minimum support price (at Rs 6,000 per quintal) of cotton, burgeoning cases of suicides in under-developed Vidarbha region, persistent protests against the 9,900-Mw Jaitapur nuclear power project, the alleged administrative apathy towards completion of irrigation projects worth Rs 75,000-crore and a rising mismatch between the demand and supply of power. The Opposition has also declared to take on the government for its “inaction and mismanagement” in curbing a rising debt, besides certain “favours” it is supposed to have shown to some cooperatives despite the sector being plagued by lack of professionalism and misappropriation of funds.

The timing of the session is crucial this time. For, civic polls are on in the state. Polling in 168 of the total 195 municipalities govt over on Sunday. The voting for the rest of the civic bodies are slated for December 13, 16 and 23. The ruling Congress, which emerged as the single largest party during the 2004 Assembly elections and then won 17 seats in the 2009 parliamentary polls, was contesting on its symbol in 156 municipalities. There were some constituencies where it was fighting its ruling ally, the Nationalist Congress Party.

On its part, the has made these polls a prestige issue in a bid to achieve supremacy. The Shiv Sena-BJP-Republican Party of India alliance has also reached out to the voters against Congress-NCP rule in the state.

The chief minister, who has exhorted for unity within the ruling front, is expected to announce a bonus of Rs 1,500-2,000 per hectare to the state’s cotton growers. This will be in addition to the central government’s MSP of Rs 3,300 per quintal. The state cabinet had last month taken a decision in this regard, but could not announce it in view of a code of conduct for the municipality elections. On this account alone, the dispensation would have to take a hit of between Rs 800 crore and 1,000 crore.

The government would, besides, seek the approval of the house for supplementary demands of Rs 4,500 crore. The state’s deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar, who is also in charge of finance ministry, had announced that he would discontinue the long drawn tradition of tabling supplementary demands in order to bring in financial discipline. However, Pawar would have to eat his own words and seek the legislature’s approval for the proposed supplementary demands. For, there is a fall in resource mobilisation due to the economic slowdown. The government may not achieve its objective of Rs 58 crore revenue surplus budget by the end of current fiscal.

Further, the administration would be targeted to fulfil its commitment on the tabling of a bill for the establishment of a regulator for the housing sector and also for releasing the new industrial and investment policies. The government has been under attack for loosing its pre-eminence in attracting investments, especially when neighbouring Gujarat has emerged as the new investment destination. What’s more, almost four sessions are over, and the government is unable to table a Bill on founding a housing regulator aims to bring in transparency.

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