Dharmendra Jore: Eklaa cholore yet again for CM
The budget session, which commences today, will test Devendra Fadnavis's plans of going solo against the Opposition, which seems well-equipped with issues ahead of election year in 2019
From today, Vidhan Bhavan will be agog to know the strategies the Opposition will use to corner Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The budget session brings in a wider range of issues and with it come longer working hours. The primary focus of scheduled proceedings may remain on the state's finances, but what wastes time are allegations and counter-allegations that do not necessarily concern the budgeting. Politics overcasts some real issues, because they, even if resolved, do not get members from both sides media and voters' attention.
All guns blazing
This budget session promises to be a stormy one, with all energy of the Opposition vested in demolishing Fadnavis, who is in his fourth year in the CM's office. Opposition parties boycotted a customary tea party that the CM hosts on the eve of the session on Sunday. A letter they have shot off to Fadnavis sounds as if there has been no other political failure as this government has proved to be. It accuses the CM of failing people of all classes and assures him of a befitting fight on the floor of the House. It also accuses him of shielding corrupt ministers and BJP leaders, who have instigated communal riots and insulted a revered historical personality - Chhatrapati Shivaji.
There are some allegations that may appear routine for the Opposition to make each time, but they will definitely create an impact if handled without making any compromise with the government. After all, what the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party together want is to add to the unrest that prevails against the BJP. This session, in particular, is important for both sides, as it will showcase BJP's financial plan for the election year through a full budget, and also test the Opposition that has finally decided to join ranks.
The bonhomie between Congress and NCP has been painting a rosy picture for their supporters, who think that the unity may bring the period between 1999 and 2014 back. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has taken the lead, and he seems to be getting the required traction from the Congress high command. No one counts the Shiv Sena as BJP's supporter when it comes to controversies involving the partner. It benefits the Sena more when the BJP gets cornered.
Devendra here, Narendra there
The working styles of Devendra Fadnavis and Narendra Modi - it is often said the CM has fully adopted his boss's model of governance - has made the Opposition's task of targeting the 'entities' in the government much easier. But there is a difference between the two.
Modi is somehow better placed in terms of a team he has at his disposal. Fadnavis hasn't had that good fortune yet. While colleagues in the Cabinet and party defend the PM whenever required, Fadnavis does not get that much support from his Cabinet colleagues when in trouble (state BJP leadership has created more problems for him than addressing any). The non-cooperation stems from the fact that Fadnavis was an unexpected choice for leading BJP's first-ever government in Maharashtra. The young leader gradually proved his ability to the high command, and he is set to be the party's CM candidate in the next elections as well.
There have been many instances of leaving the CM to fend for himself even when the matters in controversy related to departments led by senior ministers. In Dharma Patil's suicide case, the minister whose department valued the land for acquisition in a fraudulent manner did not speak a word. All waited for the CM to return from Davos to take control of the situation. When many farmers died from inhaling pesticide while spraying, the minister concerned kept mum. Is it that the colleagues in BJP are waiting for Fadnavis to falter to such an extent that he gets in a situation that endangers his job?
Success with glitches
A novice in an important office, Fadnavis's success hasn't come without some alarming glitches that the Opposition is now accounting for his major failures. To be fair to the Opposition, they have all the democratic right to demand answers and seek inquiries in matters in which people responsible do not deserve any state protection.
A similar viewpoint, rather acceptable, comes from within the BJP. Why does Eknath Khadse get the boot and others facing equally serious charges get protected? The others in this case include ministers, legislators, heads of state-owned corporations, top bureaucrats, police officers, BJP leaders and some private people, who have either dented BJP government's image or are in the process of maligning the CM's image further by their wrongdoings. A desperate Opposition, of which many leaders themselves face corruption charges, wouldn't want more than this for launching an attack on the government ahead of the crucial polls.
Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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