Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis

The Enforcement Directorate's move to attach a sugar mill linked to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and its probe into a money laundering case related to former state Home minister Anil Deshmukh are some of the issues the opposition BJP might raise in the next week's monsoon session to corner the Shiv Sena-led MVA government, which is also facing the heat from organisations of Marathas and OBCs on the sensitive issue of quotas.

The monsoon session of the state legislature is scheduled to be held for only two days- July 5 and 6- in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and fear of a possible third wave of the pandemic.

Deshmukh, a senior NCP leader, is also facing a CBI probe into allegations of an "extortion racket" raised against him by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

The ED has issued a fresh summons asking Deshmukh to appear before it in Mumbai on July 5 in connection with the money laundering case.

The BJP had also criticised the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress over the two-day duration of the session, alleging the government was avoiding to face tough questions citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Deshmukh issue is still hot, the attachment of a sugar mill related to Ajit Pawar by the ED in connection with the alleged Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) scam has given fresh ammunition to the Opposition.

The BJP had walked out of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting last month over the short duration of the monsoon session where the only passage of bills and supplementary demands will be allowed without a question hour and calling attention.

Recently, Maharashtra Governor B S Koshyari had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to take a call on the issues raised by Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Devendra Fadnavis who had sought the extension of the duration of the session and holding of the election of the Assembly Speaker.

In his reply, Thackeray justified the short duration of the session citing the pandemic and the threat of a possible third wave along with the delta plus variant.

The chief minister had said the health of the people and the elected representatives was the priority of his government.

Thackeray was, however, non-committal on holding the election of Speaker during the session despite the Congress in the favour of the election.

A senior Congress leader had said a final decision on the schedule for Speaker's elections can be decided only after RT-PCR test reports of all the MLAs are received.

The Sena and the NCP had said the MVA candidate for the Speaker's post will win with a bigger margin than in November 2019 when the MVA won the floor test with 169 votes in the 288-member House.

During the budget session held in February, the BJP had tried to corner the Thackeray government on the recovery of an explosives-laden SUV from outside the south Mumbai residence of industrialist Mukesh Ambani and the subsequent murder of Thane-based businessman Mansukh Hiran.

Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh had alleged that then home minister Anil Deshmukh had asked some Mumbai police officers, including Sachin Waze, to collect Rs 100 crore from bars and restaurants in Mumbai per month. Deshmukh resigned in April after the high court ordered a CBI probe.

He had denied the corruption allegations.

Other issues the Opposition might raise to put the government on the mat are quashing of the quota in jobs and education for Marathas and of OBCs in local bodies by the Supreme Court.

The BJP blames the state government for the rulings given by the SC in these sensitive issues.

Bills on the concept of 'heritage' trees, an amendment to the Nursing Act to extend the timeframe for the administrator on the nursing council to hold elections, and the Cooperative Institutions Amendment Act may be tabled during the session.

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Free Press Journal