Even though the Business Advisory Committees of the state assembly and council have decided the proceedings for March 1 to March 8 amidst the rising COVID-19 cases, the Health Department has suggested an option to increase the duration, perhaps, up to four weeks. Already, the state legislature secretariat has declared that the testing is mandatory for ministers, legislators, staff and journalists ahead of the budget session beginning March 1.
According to the Health Department, the proceedings on the assembly and council can take place for four days followed by a three-day recess. During this period, those who are infected with the virus can be detected and sent under medical observation.
Officer from the state legislature secretariat confirmed that the Health Department has mooted this option. “However, there was no formal discussion at the BACs held on Thursday. It may come up at the next meeting slated for February 25,” he said. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who holds the finance and planning department, will present the second budget of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on March 8.
The state legislature secretariat has worked out the sitting arrangement whereby only one member will sit on one seat. Considering the 288 members of the assembly, some members will be accommodated in the officers’ and visitors’ galleries in order to avoid crowding. Only one personal assistant of a legislator will be allowed. The entry of visitors will be banned.
In a related development, the Maharashtra Legislative Council chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar has sent a letter to the state government, asking it to get all the legislators vaccinated. This will help the legislators to attend the budget session. As per the Government of India’s prescribed norms, frontline workers are being administered vaccines currently.
The opposition has pressed for a duration of four weeks for the budget session. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that if there will be any attempt to curtail the duration, it will clearly prove that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government wants to run away without facing the discussion on a number of current issues.