Maha Legislature: Angry clouds amass for stormy monsoon session
The Speaker’s stance will be critical even on the issue of disqualification of MLAs from the rival factions of the NCP (Ajit Pawar) and NCP (Sharad Pawar) besides the Shiv Sena and Shiv Sena (UBT)
Amid mercurial political equations dogging the state, all political parties – the ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-Nationalist Congress Party (breakaway), and the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi Congress-Shiv Sena (UBT)-NCP – brace for a turbulent monsoon session of the Maharashtra Legislature from Monday (July 17).
Though the Opposition strength has been considerably slashed after the split in the NCP, it is confident of putting the government on the mat -- for the first time in the state, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde shall be flanked by two Deputy CMs, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar -- on many issues, during the three-week-long session till Aug. 4.
On the other hand, the ruling alliance, particularly, the CM and his team, seem to be under the threat of the upcoming verdict on the disqualification of 16 MLAs including Shinde himself, that could again change the political landscape.
The Speaker Rahul Narwekar is racing against time to deliver his ruling on the issue after the aggressive Shiv Sena (UBT) has moved the Supreme Court on the delays in deciding the disqualification matter.
The Speaker’s stance will be critical even on the issue of disqualification of MLAs from the rival factions of the NCP (Ajit Pawar) and NCP (Sharad Pawar) besides the Shiv Sena and Shiv Sena (UBT).
Maharashtra’s reputation as a ‘politically stable’ state took many near-fatal punches after 2019, and the state has witnessed 3 oath ceremonies of 3 CMs, 3 Deputy CMs, two Speakers, and possibly a third Leader of Opposition now.
For the bewildered people of the state, the situation has been bizarre since the assembly elections of Oct. 2019, with rebellions, alliance break-downs, new permutations and combinations, strange bed-fellows with rival ideologies, etc, coming to the fore.
Consequently, the rulers became the Opposition, Opposition parties bounced back into power, two major parties split with one faction each on the ruling side and in the opposition, making the entire political set-up unrecognisable as well as undefinable.
Not exactly a rosy scenario with the Lok Sabha elections hardly eight months away and the assembly elections due in 15 months – both in 2024 – and the two rebellions (June 2022 & July 2023) in two important parties (Shiv Sena & NCP) that have drastically altered the course of state politics.
The Congress has been catapulted form the fourth to the second position after BJP now, and now is expected to stake claim to the post of Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, which earlier the NCP was hoping to bag (after Ajit Pawar’s exit).
In the Legislative Council, Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Ambadas Danve is the Leader of Opposition, but this month, the Deputy Chairperson Dr. Neelam Gorhe (of Shiv Sena-UBT) switched over to the ruling ally Shiv Sena, and again the Congress may try its luck for Leader of Opposition in the Upper House.
The post of Chairperson of Legislative Council is vacant after the end of tenure of Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar (NCP) – incidentally, he is the father-in-law of the Speaker Narwekar.
The MVA has been predicting that after Ajit Pawar’s entry – which has rattled many in the Shiv Sena – CM Shinde could be shown the exit, though the three ruling allies have scoffed at the claims.
As far as other non-political issues are concerned the Opposition MVA will corner the government on the spate of communal clashes witnessed in the state in the past few months, the law-and-order situation with recent attacks on women, the problems of farmers given the uneven rainfall this monsoon, etc.