“Funds meant for Vidarbha and Marathwada will not be diverted”

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday assured the legislature that the State government would abide by the Governor’s directives on the backward regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada and funds meant for them would not be diverted.

Mr. Chavan was replying in both Houses after Opposition and ruling alliance legislators kicked up a row over a ‘controversial’ statement submitted by Advocate General Darius Khambata in the Bombay High Court. The issue disrupted proceedings in the Assembly on Thursday.

The irate legislators argued that Mr. Khambata had submitted in court that under Article 371 (2), the Governor’s directives on equitable allocation of funds to all regions were ‘advisory in nature and not binding on the State.’

Legislators from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Shiv Sena, and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, including ruling party MLAs from Vidarbha and Marathwada vehemently complained that the AG’s statement meant the government could divert funds to prosperous Western Maharashtra while ignoring the Governor’s directives on allocations to Vidarbha and Marathwada divisions.

“No funds would be diverted to Western Maharashtra at the expense of development expenditure earmarked for Marathwada and Vidarbha. The State government has always abided by the Governor’s directives in the past and will continue to do so,” said Mr. Chavan.

Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister conferred with the AG in the former’s chamber in the legislature premises even as disgruntled legislators forced an hour-long adjournment in the Assembly.

BJP legislator Devendra Fadnavis, who had moved a breach of privilege notice against the AG, said Mr. Khambata’s affidavit was in contravention of Article 371 (2) which vested special responsibility with the Governor to decide on the allocation of funds for development expenditure and to intervene where there were regional imbalances in the proposed allocation.