Maharashtra govt directs department heads, municipal commissioners not to entertain leaders of opposition

Sanjay JogUpdated: Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 07:45 AM IST
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Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray | Photo: Uddhav Thackeray Official Page/Facebook

Mumbai: Once bitten, twice shy. The Maharashtra Government has directed department heads, district collectors and municipal commissioners not to entertain leaders of opposition in the state assembly and council who enjoy cabinet minister’s rank. They have been further asked not to attend meetings and visits organised by the leaders of opposition, as the latter do not have powers to convene such meetings and take briefings.

The government on Tuesday issued a four-page notification, close on the heels of recent such meetings convened by the leader of opposition in the state assembly Devendra Fadnavis and leader of opposition in the state council Pravin Darekar.

These meetings were held in various districts during their visits to review the Covid-19 pandemic and impact of the recent cyclone. After chairing the meetings, Fadnavis and Darekar had launched a scathing attack on the government which has not gone down well with the Uddhav Thackeray-led council of ministers. Senior ministers took a strong objection to Fadnavis and Darekar summoning the district collectors and municipal commissioners for briefings. The ministers strongly argued that leaders of opposition were busy stepping up attacks against the government, instead of making valuable and concrete suggestions for control of the pandemic.

The government has said in the notification, ‘‘The ministers have powers to supervise the administrative work, convene meetings with the officers concerned and issue directives as per the earlier notification issued by the BJP-led government in March 2016.

However, such powers are not enjoyed by the leaders of opposition, non-government members, members of Parliament and legislature. Therefore, the department heads and the district and municipal administration are directed not to attend meetings or visits by such members.’’ Further, the district collector can address issues and grievances of the MPs and the legislators in their respective constituencies and convene meetings on a convenient day during the month for their speedy resolution. Meanwhile, Darekar has criticised the government move, saying that it was an attempt to muzzle the opposition voice in a bid to cover up its failures.

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