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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Winter session begins today: Speaker election row likely to rock House

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government, meanwhile, has dared the BJP to move a no-confidence motion against the government during the winter session of the state legislature that will commence from Wednesday.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
Updated: December 22, 2021 7:54:31 am
BJP leaders at a party meeting at Mahila Vikas Mandal Hall, in Mumbai on Tuesday. (Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

The elections for the post of Speaker in the upcoming winter session of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly has set off a slanging match, with the BJP criticising the ruling parties’ decision to conduct elections through a voice vote, stating that it reflects their lack of confidence in their own legislators. The Maha Vikas Aghadi government, meanwhile, has dared the BJP to move a no-confidence motion against the government during the winter session of the state legislature that will commence from Wednesday.

With the elections for the Speaker’s post scheduled during the week-long session, it is likely to be a stormy affair. The post of the Speaker fell vacant in February after then Speaker Nana Patole tendered his resignation. Patole was later appointed the state president of the Congress.

Recently, the rules committee of the state legislature amended the rules for election of assembly Speaker to allow it through a voice vote instead of the secret ballot, citing the practice in force in other states.

State BJP president Chandrakant Patil on Monday claimed that the government does not have confidence in its legislators which is why it is going for a voice vote. As part of the power sharing among the three parties that constitute the MVA, the post of the Speaker has been given to the Congress. Senior state Congress leaders were in New Delhi on Tuesday evening in deliberations with the party high command over their likely nominee for the post.

Patil’s claim was rebutted by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who challenged the BJP to move a no-confidence motion against the government. “If the Opposition feels that the election of the Speaker is being held through a voice vote, then it has the right to move the no-confidence motion (against the government). If it feels so, the Opposition should move the no-confidence motion and get it passed. We will reject it,” Pawar, who addressed the media in the absence of CM Uddhav Thackeray, said.

Thackeray, who underwent spine surgery last month, attended the Cabinet meeting virtually. “Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is in good health…He has told us to hold a meeting of MVA MLAs tomorrow. He will attend the session as per convenience,” Pawar added.

While the BJP is keen on raising the issue of paper leaks for various state recruitment exams Pawar rejected the CBI inquiry demand. “The police are investigating the scam and there is no political interference in it. In case an irregularity is found, the culprits will be punished. The state police are capable of investigating the scam…so where does the issue of CBI inquiry come from? What happened to the Sushant Singh Rajput case (given to CBI),” said Pawar.

He said the assembly session is being held in Mumbai due to travel restrictions on the CM after the surgery but the government is considering holding the next session in Nagpur. “A meeting will be held again on Friday to decide the duration of the session considering the Omicron threat. Also, the government is ready to discuss issues such as examination scam, Covid threat, disconnecting the electricity supply due to arrears, and the reduction in excise duty,” he said.

Pawar said the government will take up five pending Bills, including the Shakti Bill, and will table 21 new Bills, including 27 per cent OBC reservation in local bodies, withdrawing the three Bills introduced against Centre’s three farm laws, multi-member ward system, increasing the seats in local bodies based on population and curtailing the powers of the Governor in the appointment of vice-chancellors.

Pawar clarified the suspension of 12 BJP legislators was not taken with any political intention but based on the situation in the House. “There is no relation between their suspension and the Governor not approving the 12 names recommended by the Cabinet to the Upper House,” he said.

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