Updated: July 3, 2021 3:28:46 am
Two days after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, asking him to take a call on the demands raised by Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, the CM on Friday responded to the letter, justifying the shorter duration of the Monsoon Session of the legislature, beginning Monday, citing the pandemic situation.
Thackeray also said that there is no specific time frame to hold election for Assembly Speaker’s post and that it would be held at an appropriate time. Further, taking a swipe at the Governor, Thackeray called for his personal intervention with the Centre to get the empirical data of Other Backward Classes (OBC) from the 2011 Census so that political reservation could be provided to the community in local bodies of Maharashtra.
The Governor had earlier this week written to the CM referring to the demands made by a BJP delegation led by Fadnavis, demanding extension of the Monsoon Session of the legislature, immediate steps to fill up Assembly speaker’s post and not hold bypolls in local bodies as OBC quota issue is pending. “Since all these three issues are very important, kindly take appropriate action and keep me informed,” Koshyari had said in the letter.
Thackeray, in his three-page reply that was released to the media, said: “The Assembly Speaker’s election is held as per Article 178 of the Constitution and rule 6 of the Maharashtra Assembly Rules. However, there is no specific time frame that has been fixed for it.”
At present, Narhari Zirwal, Deputy Speaker in the Assembly, has been given the charge of Speaker and the Budget Session of the legislature was held under him. “So, the absence of the election (for Speaker’s post) has neither violated any constitutional provision nor created any constitutional problem,” said the CM.
He further said that there should not be any disagreement that the election of the Speaker should be conducted in such a way that almost every member of the Assembly can participate directly in the poll. The guidelines of World Health Organisation and the Union Health Ministry say that RT-PCR reports of tests conducted within 72 hours is acceptable, he added. RT-PCR negative reports are mandatory for legislators to attend the Monsoon Session.
“So, it would not be appropriate to fix the date for the election of the Speaker’s post in advance. Considering the Covid-19 situation and ensuring the attendance of legislators, the Speaker will be elected at an appropriate time by fulfilling all the rules of the legislature,” the CM said.
Thackeray justified the two-day Monsoon Session citing concerns expressed by experts of the state Covid-19 task force and a warning given by the Centre, which was discussed in the state legislature’s Business Advisory Committee meeting. “Only, the Business Advisory Committee has the power to decide on the duration of the session. By following the legal process, it has finalised a two-day Monsoon Session on July 5 and 6,” he wrote.
On postponing bypolls in local bodies, Thackeray said the government has requested the State Election Commission to postpone the same in the wake of Centre’s advisory to be vigilant and the possibility of Covid-19 spreading during the byelections. “A positive response is expected from the commission. Also, a petition seeking the deferment of polls has also been filed by the government in the Supreme Court,” he added.
Stating that the government is concerned about OBCs, Thackeray said that the issue of Supreme Court scrapping political reservation for the community in local bodies was taken up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi “for a permanent constitutional solution to the issue”.
“In view of the importance of this sensitive issue, I would also like to request you to follow up with the Central government at your level and get the empirical data from the 2011 Census so that the state government can take further necessary steps,” Thackeray urged the Governor.
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