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Why no new projects can be announced in Maharashtra for 6 months

With state council and assembly elections coming up after the Lok Sabha results are announced on May 16, the EC’s code of conduct is likely to send the state into a 6-month long slumber, as no new projects can be announced by the government

It’s not a good time to be a member of the Congress-NCP Democratic Front government in the state.

Even as the combine is trying to pull things together amidst worries of losing Lok Sabha seats and the preparations for the state assembly elections due in October, the impending announcement of the state council polls for five seats — and, with it, the fresh imposition of the model code of conduct — is set to paralyse it all over again.

Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan and Ajit Pawar
Hands tied: The atmosphere at the first cabinet meeting after the LS polls yesterday was gloomy and even CM Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar appeared lost in their own world, said a source who was at the meeting. File pic

The code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections came into force in March and will stay in place till May 20. It will come into effect again when the state council polls are announced soon and be lifted only in mid-July. August will see it come into place again, giving the state government only a few days in between each phase to do any development or relief work.

Gloomy meet
On Wednesday, the atmosphere at the Sahyadri state guesthouse was gloomy when the state cabinet convened for the first time after polling for the Lok Sabha. The ministers wore a dejected look, which was an indication that they expected their worst fears to come true, said a source, adding that none of them even stopped to have lunch after the cabinet meeting. A minister who attended the meeting said no one was in the mood to discuss the Lok Sabha polls or their outcome and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar appeared lost in their own world.

 “This is the worst-possible phase the Congress-led government could have been passing through,” said a minister, adding, “We could do nothing even for the farmers affected due to the hailstorms that wreaked havoc in 24 districts — damaging crops on approximately 24 lakh hectares — as the model code of conduct for Lok Sabha came into force on March 5. This may adversely affect the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections.” “Now, with the model code of conduct coming into force again and again with very few days of respite in between, we will have little or no time to do any last-minute work to enhance our standing with the voters before we face them during the state assembly elections,” he added.

The state cabinet has now decided to meet again on May 2 to discuss the future course of action, sources from the government said.

Council polls
The state council polls will be held to fill five seats, which have voters in 24 districts of the state.  They have been necessitated by the expiry of the term of BJP leader Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur graduates constituency, Satish Chavan (NCP) from Aurangabad graduates constituency and Chandrakant Patil (BJP) from Pune graduates constituency. The remaining two seats are from the teachers constituencies of Pune and Amravati.

The model code of conduct will be in force for 24 districts, including cities like Pune, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Amravati.  As major parts of the state will be under its ambit, the government cannot make any major announcements which can benefit large sections of the state’s population.

Major implications
With the code of conduct for the state council polls set to come in force in 24 districts, including cities like Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Amravati, no major announcement in the interest of the entire state can be made.
If it wants make any announcements, the government will have to take the risk of excluding major parts of the state  
State departments like the PWD, which is facing the wrath of the people due to bad roads, will not be able to undertake infrastructure projects.

The Urban Development department also cannot make announcements for new grants to civic bodies for development of amenities. It can do so for Mumbai and some other districts, but major parts of the state will not benefit
>> Even if the state announces certain sops or development projects during the Monsoon session of the state legislature from June 2, their implementation before the assembly elections seems like a remote possibility.
>> Hardly any schemes promoting agriculture and tourism are expected as no benefits will be visible ahead of the assembly elections. The same applies to departments of public health, education and women and child development. Ministers will not be able to conduct official tours in the 24 districts.  

March 5
The day the EC’s model code of conduct came into effect

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