Mumbai: Budget session 2021-2022 to be a stormy affair

The budget session of the Maharashtra legislature will be a stormy affair. The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government and the opposition, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have geared up to take on each other on a number of issues. The session will begin on March 1 and will conclude on March 10. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar will present the annual budget for 2021-22 on March 8.

The charges against Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Rathod, Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) youth wing chief Mehboob Sheikh are expected to come up during the session. The deteriorating financial and law and order conditions, disconnection of power supply to over 3.50 lakh consumers for the non-payment of bills, lack of timely aid to farmers affected by natural calamities, alleged corruption in the transfer and promotion of IPS and IAS officers and irregularities in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic are also some of the issues on which a heated debate could take place.

Shiv Sena minister Sanjay Rathod has resigned in the wake of allegations with regard to the suicide of Tik Tok start Pooja Chavan. However, BJP has demanded his arrest and the opposition is prepared to question the state government for not being serious in carrying out an impartial inquiry in the case. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has slammed BJP for expressing no confidence in the investigation machinery by repeatedly demanding Rathod’s resignation. He said that the government has already directed the police to complete the probe in a time-bound manner and added that no one will be spared.

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis has demanded action against Munde and Sheikh. He lashed out at the government for rampant corruption in the police department and also in handling the coronavirus crisis in Mumbai.

However, Thackeray has rubbished Fadnavis’ corruption charges in the containment of COVID-19 crisis, saying that the Dharavi model has been hailed globally. The CM attacked BJP for levelling charges for making headlines.

On the financial front, the state government will have to struggle to release its roadmap as the revenue deficit is expected to be Rs 1 lakh crore with a fiscal deficit of 7% by the end of March 31, 2021 in the wake of the lockdown and the economic downturn. The state government has already borrowed a record Rs 73,000 crore during April-December 2020. The opposition will question the state government’s handling of the state economy, as it has claimed that the government could not make timely payment to the frontline warriors for want of money.

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