It truly is turning out to be a ‘budget’ session for the Maharashtra assembly, given the low turnout of ministers. Repeated adjournments seem to have become the norm with several representatives of the ruling combine choosing to stay away, ostensibly to focus their energies on provisioning for the impending civic polls in various parts of the state.
On Wednesday, the assembly was adjourned twice as certain ministers were not present in the House. That irked Speaker Dilip Walse Patil so much that he said ‘it has become too much now and the government is not serious’. Exasperated, Patil prorogued the proceedings on two occasions — first for 10 minutes, and later for another 30. Last week too, Patil had lost his cool when the Opposition demanded quorum in the House. The indignant Speaker had stunned the House when he apologised on behalf of the ruling side.
The repeated adjournments seem to have hardly stirred the Congress-NCP government, as at least nine ministers have remained absent so far after informing the Chief Minister and the Speaker, and three to four others have stayed away without any prior intimation. Ministers Nitin Raut, Anil Deshmukh, Sanjay Deotale, Manohar Naik, Dr Vijaykumar Gavit, Prof Laxman Dhoble, Varsha Gaikwad, and ministers of state Prof Fauzia Khan and Gulabrao Deokar have been absent after informing the House.
Even CM Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and parliamentary affairs minister Harshwardhan Patil left Vidhan Bhavan on Wednesday afternoon to address rallies at Chandrapur, Parbhani and Latur municipal corporations respectively. Most ministers are currently busy campaigning for elections to five municipal corporations – Bhiwandi, Malegaon, Latur, Parbhani and Chandrapur, said a Congress minister, admitting lack of coordination and floor management.
Lack of numbers
The assembly was adjourned for ten minutes yesterday when the concerned minister was not present to offer his reply on two calling-attention motions. Later, when the business resumed, few ministers were present in the House, which led the Opposition BJP and Shiv Sena to raise a clamour.
That resulted in another adjournment for 30 minutes. Tempers subsided only when two ministers, Babanrao Pachpute and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil apologised. Don’t expect a turnaround today. Those who have given prior intimation for absence on Thursday include minister Rajesh Tope and ministers of state Prakash Solanke and Prof Fauzia Khan, who are busy campaigning at Parbhani and Latur. Minister Manohar Naik will remain absent from April 9 to April 19 due to surgery.
State wants Centre to bear Qasab’s burden
The Democratic Front (DF) government, which has shouldered Rs 5 crore financial burdens out of Rs 25 crore expenses on 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Qasab, now wants the entire cost to be borne by the centre. Addressing the State Council yesterday, Home Minister R R Patil, said that the terror strike on Mumbai was an attack against the country and hence the centre should bear the cost.
Replying to a calling attention motion, Patil said that till date Rs 25 crore were spent on Qasab, out of which Rs 5.25 crore spent on special cell in Arthur Road jail, Rs 1.22 crore on the state police engaged in protection, Rs 19.22 crore on Indo-Tibetian Border Police (ITBP), Rs 35,000 on food and Rs 28,066 on medical expenses. While the centre has shared Rs 20 crore, the state made Rs 5 crore available from its kitty, said Patil.