Opposition walks out over govt. stance on development boards

Making a point: Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole protests the fuel price hike on the first day of the Budget session, in Mumbai on Monday.  

The Maharashtra Budget session was off to a stormy start on Monday after the Opposition walked out of the Assembly protesting the government stand to wait till the appointment of 12 Council members from the Governor’s quota before making appointments to the Vidarbha and Marathwada statutory development boards.

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said that the government was making an excuse to deny the under-developed Marathwada and Vidarbha regions their due share of development by not making the appointments.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who also holds the finance portfolio, said the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was committed to their development and the budget that he was going to present in the next week would ensure adequate funds to these regions.

As Mr. Pawar presented the supplementary demands worth ₹21,076.32 crore on the first day of the session, Mr. Fadnavis raised the issue of funds to these boards and asked why no appointments had been made.

The Finance Minister said that the moment Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari cleared the appointment of 12 MLCs as recommended by the State Cabinet, the appointments to these boards would be announced. This led to uproar from the Opposition benches who alleged bias towards the two regions. “We want to establish the boards, but are waiting for the Governor’s approval for 12 MLCs,” Mr. Pawar said.

To this, Mr. Fadnavis, who was supported by former Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, said, “You cannot play with the development of the two regions for 12 MLCs. This is our constitutional right.”

“The statutory development boards are essential for these regions,” Mr. Mungantiwar said.

The statutory development boards were created to ensure equitable distribution of funds for these regions which have lagged in development ever since they became part of Maharashtra. The boards, which have representatives from the legislature, get extension every five years; the previous tenure came to an end on April 30, 2020.

The MVA government has sent a proposal to appoint 12 MLCs from the Governor’s quota which has been pending with Mr. Koshyari for approval for over five months. According to sources, appointments to the boards without filling the total capacity of the legislature may lead to legal problems.

Congress MLA Nana Patole said that while these boards were essential, a white paper must be tabled on what financial allocations the previous BJP-led government had made for these regions during its tenure. This proposal was accepted by Mr. Pawar.

Claiming that his request to the Finance Minister to make the appointments was not heard, Mr. Mungantiwar said that the Opposition was staging a walk-out.

Mr. Pawar reiterated that there would be sufficient budgetary allocations for both the regions. “We have also sent a proposal of development boards for Konkan and north Maharashtra,” he added.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 3:10:24 AM |

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