Winter is coming for Uddhav Thackeray
But just for one week. The state's Dec session starts on Monday, but won't face questions as MLAs were kept busy in transit
The Winter session of the state legislature in Nagpur which starts on December 16 will be different in many ways. There will be no questions asked, formally through advance submission, and only six ministers and the CM will face the Opposition. And, the duration of the sitting is expected to be just one week against the usual two weeks.
The oddity surfaced because the legislature couldn't take questions well in advance as the legislators were kept busy travelling or holed up in various places before the three-party government was formed. And then, incessant delay in allocation of portfolios to the six ministers and inadequate number of cabinet colleagues (the cabinet expansion has also been delayed) complicated the plan of conduct. For holding a session in Nagpur, the machinery needs to be shifted several days before the session takes off. It's like shifting the entire government for at least a month, in case a full-fledged sitting is held.
The Nagpur session could not be delayed beyond December because of an agreement known as the Nagpur Pact that the then Central Province (of which Marathi-speaking Vidarbha was an integral part) had signed before merging with unified Maharashtra 60 years ago. It said that one session per year must be held in the second capital. Nagpur was the Central Province's capital then and it still has the set up of a state capital including Vidhan Bhavan, Raj Bhavan, CM and ministerial bungalows, administrative buildings and everything required to run a state government.
However, this winter, there will be no new bills tabled. Issues to be introduced or tabled will come from the previous BJP-Sena government. The ordinances will be taken up for consideration. Supplementary demands will be taken up for approval. These are provisions in addition to the budget approved earlier. The departments that need more money raise the demand through supplementary.
Another regular practice that every new government follows is debating the Governor's address to the joint sitting which was held earlier this month. The governor's speech is seen as the policy statement of the government which both sides in the two houses debate and seek answers to. The government has agreed to have this and CM Uddhav Thackeray will respond to the debate that will be conducted over two days.
There is also no clarity on whether calling attention motions will be taken up. Calling attentions are the comprehensive questions a group of legislators craft in view of issues that need urgent resolution. And more importantly, the opposition isn't expected to get an opportunity to table the 'last week resolution' which gives the opposition leader and his colleagues the chance to grill the government on several issues at one go.
Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis demanded that the opposition and legislators cutting across party lines must be given opportunity to raise questions, debate and seek answers from the new government. He demanded that all legislative tools, including the last week resolution, should have been allowed. "The session should be held at least for two weeks so that we can transact public-related business in both houses and do justice to the masses," he said.
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