February 26, 2021 12:28:23 am
In the wake of rising Covid-19 cases, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has shortened the duration of the state legislature’s Budget session to 10 days from the usual practice of holding it for four weeks. While the state Budget will be presented on March 8, the election to the post of the Assembly Speaker is not on the government’s agenda for the Budget session.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab said due to rising Covid-19 cases across the state and with some ministers contracting the virus, the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the state legislature has decided to hold a 10-day session from March 1. “The governor’s speech, supplementary demands, bills, budget and discussion on them will take place during the session,” said Parab.
Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly Narhari Zirwal, Legislative Council Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, senior ministers and opposition leaders attended the BAC meeting.
Parab added that the Opposition had suggested to present the vote on account, the interim permission of the legislature to the government to spend money, and hold one-day session for now and the full-fledged budget session later on. “Since the session was decided and it is equally important to present a budget, we have finalised the 10-day business,” he added.
The resignation of Nana Patole from the Speaker’s position has necessitated fresh elections for the post. The MVA allies are, however, in no hurry to hold elections to the post which will once again be a floor test for the government in the Assembly.
On the Speaker’s election, Parab said the sessions have been held smoothly by pro-tem Speakers in other states such as Madhya Pradesh. “With the Speaker’s post vacant, the deputy Speaker can chair the session,” the minister said, adding that the election to the Speaker’s post is an internal issue of the MVA and there is no need to discuss it in the BAC meeting.
Another minister said there is no consensus on the candidate for the Speaker’s post. So, the election could be deferred to the next session, the minister added.
Last week, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had written to the state legislature secretariat, stating that the election to the post of the Assembly Speaker should be held during the Budget session.
RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test has been made mandatory for all leaders, officials and staff. Also, testing will be done on Saturday and Sunday from this week as well for all those attending the session.
Parab denied the Opposition’s allegations that the government is running away from facing questions. He said the government does not fear facing the Opposition and added: “The session has been curtailed due to the rise in Covid-19 cases.”
“After the discussion, it was announced by the chairman that the meeting is over. Then, during the informal discussions after the meeting, the Opposition announced that it is staging a walkout,” Parab said on the Opposition’s agitation.
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