The brewing discontent in the state government is getting more visible, especially after Governor K Shankaranara-yanan’s address before the joint sitting of the state legislature on March 11.
On Monday, when Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was replying to the thanksgiving motion on governor’s address, hardly any prominent face from the Nationalist Congress Party was visible in the state assembly.
As per the legislative norms, the governor’s speech is a public declaration of policy that the government wants to follow in the coming year. And, the state legislature approves it after the ruling party’s thanksgiving motion and subsequent debate on it.
When the CM rose to reply on behalf of the Congress-NCP coalition government, the seats next to him were empty. Neither Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, nor his senior colleagues from NCP — Chhagan Bhujbal, RR Patil and Jayant Patil — were present. Of the eight ministers present in the house only two — Rajesh Tope and Hassan Mushrif — were from the NCP.
Even the number of MLAs present on the ruling party benches was just 25, compared to 143 members of both the parties. Of these 25, except two senior leaders, Madhukar Pichad and Nawab Malik, prominent members from NCP were absent.
The grouse simmering in the NCP camp is about the Congress having a greater say in the governor’s address. The NCP is perturbed over the Congress’ attempt to slash its stature by including just 23 points of achievements and agendas from the 13 departments under the NCP.
On the other hand, Congress had 63 points from the 25 departments under its control. NCP ministers said that even as most crucial departments such as home, finance, planning, energy, PWD, water resources, food and civil supplies, higher and medical education and tourism were with the NCP, the governor referenced them sparingly. Many departments were completely ignored, said the party men.
When the CM concluded his 45-minutes reply, the attendance on the ruling benches was approximately 35, with two more faces from NCP just entering the house. Before that, the CM had said that all the major infrastructure projects in Mumbai such as Eastern Freeway, Metro-1, Monorail, Chembur-Santrcruz Link Road and Sahar Elevated Road would be opened for traffic.
In his reply at the state council, the CM sought to clear his name from the veiled attack made by BJP member Ashish Shelar. “I have a clean track record of my 25 years in public life. I don’t approve personal favours,” Chavan said, responding to Shelar’s allegations of underhand dealings in approving parking lots in Mumbai, increasing FSI for special townships and changes in zoning to facilitate residential and commercial development.