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LS polls may be declared on Feb 21

Consequently, the state cabinet will have a minimum of four meetings to take decisions over pending issues to please voters before poll code of conduct kicks in

Election fever has caught up with the ministers. In a bid to catch up and take decisions on issues that have been pending for years on their agenda, the state cabinet has lined up a series of meetings. Earlier, the poll announcement was scheduled to be made in the first week of March.

The state cabinet meeting will be having as many as 12 items on its agenda, as compared to just 4-5 earlier. File pic
The state cabinet meeting will be having as many as 12 items on its agenda, as compared to just 4-5 earlier. File pic

But, after indications that the Lok Sabha election programme would be declared by February 21, ministers in the Congress-NCP government and senior officials are counting down to the big day. At least four state cabinet meetings will be convened, apart from a series of meetings separately.

Interestingly, the intimation of the state cabinet meeting sent to ministers said that the weekly meeting scheduled on Wednesday, i.e. on February 5 might be reconvened, if need be, at 6 pm after the first session scheduled at 11 in the morning. Officials said the rush was in reaction to the advancement of the declaration of the poll programme — which may have seven phases to consider the huge backlog of issues.

However, there was scepticism that the early announcement would also severely affect governance, as the election code of conduct kicks in. This would be the longest period as compared to any other previous election. No government will accept to be under an election code of conduct for more than two months, said sources.

Officials expect the state cabinet meeting scheduled for February 12 will have the biggest agenda ever. As many as 12 items will be discussed, as compared to just four or five in the last few years. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, too, is taking things seriously. The CM is set to meet office bearers of the state government employees’ union today.

One of the chief demands of the unions has been a five-day work week. Other demands include clearing arrears, reforms in administration and salaries on par with central government. “Previous calls to agitations by unions were never given much importance; now that polls are here, we have been invited for a meeting,” an office bearer of the union said.

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