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Maharashtra: New law to bring CM, ministers within ambit of Lokayukta

Updated on: 19 December,2022 07:51 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

It’s a matter of interpretation whether previous CMs, ministers will be acted against, says home minister Fadnavis

Maharashtra: New law to bring CM, ministers within ambit of Lokayukta

CM Eknath Shinde with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis during a tea party on the eve of Winter Session of Assembly, in Nagpur on Sunday. Pic/PTI

Even as the Opposition tried to put on a show of strength on the eve of the Winter Session of the state legislature by boycotting the CM’s tea party, the state government came up with a draft bill to bring the CM and cabinet under the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta. The bill, to be passed in the session, will allow the Lokayukta to direct the Anti-corruption Bureau to file cases against the CM and cabinet members and investigate corruption charges against them.

However, deputy CM and home minister Devendra Fadnavis said the application of the new law with retrospective effect will be a matter of interpretation. “The new law is not for framing or rescuing anyone,” he said to a question whether the previous CMs could also be probed under the new law which has been drafted as per the recommendations of a committee headed by anti-graft activist Anna Hazare. 

“The Hazare panel was formed when our government was in power in 2014-2019 and it submitted a report, but the new government [of Uddhav Thackeray] did not draft and table the law,” said Fadnavis at a media conference after the tea party and cabinet meeting on Sunday. He said, “The Lokayukta can direct the ACB to act against the CM and ministers without seeking a government nod.”

Fadnavis, who spoke before the CM, lambasted Opposition leader Ajit Pawar for raising the Vidarbha backlog issue. “All of us know who created and increased Vidarbha’s backlog. We will submit the relevant data to prove it in the session,” he added.

‘Won’t make state a Lavasa’

CM Eknath Shinde said his government did not want to make another Lavasa—a controversial hill township that had put the Pawar family in the dock. “About the charges that we are a khoke government [paid for making the government with the BJP], I will make a statement in the house,” he said in an apparent jibe at Ajit Pawar.

The CM and his deputy also responded to the Opposition’s other allegations over their leaders, MLAs and governor’s remarks against revered personalities and lack of financial assistance for the farmers.

Also read: Enact Lokayukta law or step down from power: Anna Hazare tells Maharashtra government

Oppn wants 3-week session

While boycotting the CM’s customary tea party, the Opposition demanded that the session be extended to three weeks. Shinde said a resolution over the border dispute with Karnataka will also be tabled in the session.

Responding to the Opposition’s demand, Shinde said the government was ready to hold it for four weeks. Fadnavis said it was good to know that the people who hardly preferred a week-long session in Nagpur when they were in power and avoided holding it in the name of the pandemic, were asking for a longer version.

The initial session programme has been set up till December 29, with a provision to extend it further. The second capital could not host the session in the past two years because of the pandemic. The agreement signed during Vidarbha’s merger with the state of Maharashtra mandates a prolonged session once a year. The then-capital of the Central Provinces and Berar has all infrastructure like Vidhan Bhavan and MLA hostel, ministerial cottages, the governor’s house for holding the session.

“At least three weeks are needed to do justice to the state and Vidarbha’s issues because the city could not have a session in the past two years. No good work has been done in the past six months because this government is a failure,” said Pawar at a joint media conference of the Opposition in Nagpur.

Pawar raised a demand for providing farmers with financial assistance for damaged crops, apart from issues like derogatory remarks against revered personalities and the border dispute with Karnataka. The same issues, along with the demand for Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s resignation, are expected to rock both houses.

Pawar assured the government of the Opposition’s cooperation in matters of public good. “However, the government’s failure has made us boycott the CM’s tea party. We have given the CM a long letter containing our demands,” he added.

Pawar said the Opposition will seek answers from the government for remaining a mute spectator while a proposed investment was taken away to another state. “The investment could have generated jobs for people in Vidarbha and the rest of Maharashtra. We want to know why the CM did not lodge a protest with the PM,” he said.

Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Expressway will reduce travel time from Nagpur to Mumbai. Do you agree?

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