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Maharashtra: is Congress losing Opposition space?

Nagpur: NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal arrive for the winter session of Maharashtra Assembly in Nagpur on Monday. PTI Photo (PTI12_15_2014_000210A)   | Photo Credit: PTI

Until last week, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had given “outside” support to Devendra Fadnavis government but with Shiv Sena joining the government days before the winter session of State legislature, the NCP was quick to change its role and pitched for the post of the Leader of Opposition in both the houses.

With the winter session into its second week, the NCP has managed to “hijack” the space of opposition from the Congress which has one more MLA than the NCP in the lower house.

While senior NCP leaders Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal take active part in the proceedings, senior Congress leaders, including former CM Prithviraj Chavan, could be seen only occasionally.

Congress deputy leader in the Assembly Vijay Waddetiwar blamed the suspension of five Congress MLAs from the house for the “lack of enthusiasm” among party MLAs. “The suspension is still playing on the minds of our senior leaders and MLAs. But our senior leaders need to be more active,” he said.

On the proactive role of NCP in the house, Mr. Waddetiwar said the NCP leaders and MLAs have to be present in the house as most of the discussion is related to the portfolios previously held by them.

However, NCP MLA and chief whip in the lower house Shashikant Shinde differed from Mr. Waddetiwar. “It’s true that we are aggressive in the house. We have decided to raise people’s issue. We have coordinators for both houses and with senior leaders present in the house, maximum party MLAs have to take part in house proceedings,” Mr. Shinde told The Hindu.

Similar situation could be witnessed in the upper house also with NCP State president Sunil Tatkare leading the charge against the government with blistering speeches.

But Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap claimed that his party was more “active” in the upper house as compared to the NCP.

The NCP once again proved its dominance in State legislature on Monday when it got its MLA Jitendra Awhad’s suspension revoked within three days whereas Congress MLAs remain suspended. Mr. Waddetiwar, however, thinks the NCP’s “proximity” with the BJP resulted in the revocation. “Possibility of an understanding between BJP and NCP can’t be ruled out. Otherwise our MLAs would also have been reinstated,” he alleged.

Mr. Shinde refuted the Congress leader’s contention and said the suspension could not have stood legal test so the government revoked it.

Another Congress MLA accepted that his party was losing the opposition space to the NCP in State legislature.

“With the death of stalwart such as Vilasrao Deshmukh and the absence of fiery speakers such as Narayan Rane and Ashok Chavhan, the party is finding it tough to compete with leaders such as Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal. Leaders such as Radhakarisha Vikhe Patil and Balasaheb Thorat will have to become more aggressive otherwise NCP will completely hijack the Opposition space,” said the Congress MLA wishing anonymity.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 1:19:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-assembly-is-congress-losing-opposition-space/article6694933.ece

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