Maharashtra: Weakened Opposition No Match For Ruling Combine

Maharashtra: Weakened Opposition No Match For Ruling Combine

Two-week winter session of state legislature virtually a cakewalk for Eknath Shinde government

Ramu BhagwatUpdated: Wednesday, December 20, 2023, 10:01 PM IST
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Maharashtra Assembly | File

The two-week winter session of the state legislature, which concluded in Nagpur on Wednesday, was virtually a cakewalk for the Eknath Shinde government. In effect it boiled down to only 10 sittings after two weekends but what marked it was feeble opposition.

After the split in the Shiv Sena and NCP, the opposition missed leaders who could stand up to the combined might of the three-party combine of the BJP, Shiv Sena (Shinde) and NCP (Ajit Pawar), who together enjoy a brute majority in the state assembly as well as the council.

Shinde's honest-sounding commitments

It was quite evident that the only rough weather, besides the cold climate of Nagpur (that dipped to around 9°C on Tuesday), the government faced would be in dealing with the issue of Maratha reservation – the over 58 marches, the lathicharge on Marathas agitators, over 50 marches organised by them, call for entry ban for politicians in villages, violence in some parts of the state targeting politicians, Maratha activist Manoj Jarange-Patil holding the government to ransom. But Shinde seems to have dealt the Maratha storm deftly with his honest-sounding commitments and buying time till February next for final resolution of the matter.

Right from the start on December 7, the opposition was never seen to be too aggressive to drag the government out of its comfort zone. To some extent, Leader of the Opposition in legislative council Ambadas Danve was effective while raising several uncomfortable issues. For example, he attacked Rural Development Minister Girish Mahajan over alleged links with gangster Salim Kutta. But then chairperson Neelam Gorhe, like her counterpart in the assembly, Rahul Narvekar, managed to steer the government out of the corner without much damage.

"Opposition had a kid-glove approach"

"We were expecting a virulent attack from the opposition when the legislature resumed this Monday over blast in a factory near Nagpur. Such incident happening near the city when winter session is on, is a recipe for trouble for the government. But the opposition had a kid-glove approach and we breezed through,” said leader of one of the faction that makes the ruling combine.

On announcement of relief for farmers and especially related to Vidarbha, there was hardly much besides the Rs20,000 per hectare bonus to paddy growers. For cotton and soybean cultivators the CM had already agreed for a package by increasing the National Disaster Relief amount and making it to Rs27,000 per hectare as compensation for crop loss.

As expected it is all well that ended well for the Shinde government, which should get some breathing space. Unless Jarange-Patil has some other ideas.

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