Former chief minister and PWD Minister Ashok Chavan on Tuesday said confrontation between the elected government and the Governor of the state does not augur well for Maharashtra.
“There cannot be two power centres in the state. There is an elected government in Maharashtra and it should be allowed to function,” Chavan, a Congress veteran, said at the web interactive series Sathicha Gazhal Maharashtracha, organised by Loksatta.
“In a democracy, when people elect a government, it should be allowed to work. However, if President’s Rule is imposed, the Governor has greater responsibilities to lead the state,” he added.
On May 2, the Election Commission (EC) had announced elections to nine Legislative Council seats, which fell vacant on April 24, less than a day after Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari wrote to the EC in this regard. The letter came two days after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Koshyari sat on a recommendation made a month ago by the state government to nominate him to the Council. Uddhav has to enter the Legislature by May 27, else along with him, the state Cabinet would have to resign.
Another bone of contention between the government and the Governor has been the Cabinet ignoring Koshyari’s letter seeking an extension for the Maharashtra state statutory development boards. The tenure of the boards, which address regional imbalance in the state, had ended on April 30.
“The functioning of the boards, which allocate funds for the development of backward regions like Vidarbha and Marathwada, is required and must. At the same time, the Governor should also ensure that the state government is empowered to decide on who will represent these boards.”
“The political dominance of western Maharashtra in state politics is a reality. Therefore, the government cannot ignore regional imbalance being faced by the backward Vidarbha and Marathwada. This has to be addressed through these boards whose tenure should soon be extended by five years,” he added.
On challenges faced before state in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, Chavan said, “Sending back stranded migrants to their home states is a huge task. More trains should be deployed. Also, there are other issues… states have to ensure that the number of cases do not increase due to such travel.”
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to announce the lockdown on March 24 was sudden. It was like demonetisation. Had he given a week’s time, states would have been better equipped and majority of migrants and those stranded would have returned to their respective home states. So much hardship could have been avoided.”
He added: “While this is not time for politics, but the Centre should provide more help to states like Maharashtra, which is among the worst affected…”
Chavan, who had served as a industries minister, said financial constraints could lead to some slashing of planned expenditure. On Monday, Maharashtra had declared a freeze on new capital works till March next year. The state, whose Budget size is the second biggest after Uttar Pradesh, imposed a 67 per cent cut in development (scheme) expenditure for 2020-21.
“However, India, especially Maharashtra, should look for opportunities to tap investments in the void created by companies that are moving out of China,” Chavan said.
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