Updated: March 3, 2022 7:14:48 am
The Budget Session of the state legislature, beginning in Mumbai on Thursday, is set to be a stormy affair with the Opposition seeking the resignation of NCP Minister Nawab Malik, who has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has, meanwhile, said that it will put up an united front in standing behind Malik and not buckle under BJP’s pressure tactics.
The session is also likely to see the election of the Assembly Speaker and the presentation of the state Budget on March 11. It will conclude on March 25. The Opposition on Wednesday boycotted the customary high-tea called by the state government on the eve of the Budget Session.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has decided not to seek Malik’s resignation. “Some sitting ministers in West Bengal were arrested but still they served as ministers. The reasons behind the arrest are more important. As of today, the CM is of the view that Malik’s resignation should not be taken and he is firm on it,” Ajit Pawar told mediapersons in the absence of the CM.
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Thackeray has recently recuperated from a spinal surgery. This is the second legislative session in a row where he has skipped the customary press conference held by the government.
Pawar, however, said that Thackeray, who could not attend the Winter Session due to illness, would attend the Budget Session.
He added that the MVA is hopeful of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari allowing it to hold the election for the post of Assembly Speaker. “We have sent a letter to him about holding the Speaker’s election. We do not have any doubt that he will respond positively to our letter. So, the Speaker will be elected in this session,” said Pawar.
Last month, the state Cabinet decided to propose that Speaker’s election be held on March 9 and communicated the same to the Governor.
“The last (Winter) session was short and there was no adequate time to hold the Speaker’s election. The Governor had raised some questions regarding the election. We feel that he might have sought the required information on the same. We, as MVA, decided to go by rules and didn’t hold Speaker’s election in the Winter Session,” Pawar said.
The MVA government and the Governor were engaged in a tussle over holding the election during the Winter Session. While the treasury benches had amended the rules for the election of the Speaker through a voice vote instead of the secret ballot, the Governor had replied saying that he was examining the amendments and didn’t approve the programme for the election.
A report on the merger of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation with the state government will also be tabled in the legislature, Pawar said. Meanwhile, the government will seek approval for seven bills during the Budget Session. These bills include waiver of property tax for residential property measuring up to 500 sq ft in Mumbai, the appointment of an administrator to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, a Bill making Marathi display boards mandatory for shops having less than 10 workers, a Bill to make Marathi as the official business language for communication in Maharashtra local bodies as well as supplementary demands and appropriation Bill.
Also, the pending Bill proposing an amendment in the Shakti Bill – which was sent to the joint select committee – mandating special police teams to fast track probe and set up independent special courts to reach a verdict in 30 working days, will be taken up.
Meanwhile, senior MVA ministers held a separate meeting to chalk out a strategy for the Budget Session in view of BJP’s seeking the resignation of Nawab Malik. A separate meeting of all MVA MLAs was also held on Wednesday. NCP president Sharad Pawar further held a review meeting with all-party ministers.
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