MPCC President Manikrao Thakre and Congress Group Leader in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil addressing a press conference in Nagpur on Sunday.
MPCC President Manikrao Thakre and Congress Group Leader in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil addressing a press conference in Nagpur on Sunday.

Congress unsure of NCP’s stand vis-a-vis several issues

Nagpur : Though the Congress has already declared its aggressive stand over the farmers’ plight in the state and has organised a massive rally in support of drought-affected farmers here on Monday, the party was not sure whether its former ally, the Nationalist Congress Party, is with it in the opposition even on the eve of winter session of Maharashtra Assembly.

The ruling combine is stronger after the cabinet expansion on Friday. But, the opposition attack appears to be depleted as it is not yet clear which parties are in opposition. Also, there are multiple claims regarding the Leader of Opposition post in both the houses. The ruling party is expected to reap benefits out of the situation and may play its cards to keep the issue lingering.

MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre declared at a press conference here in the afternoon that his party is boycotting CM’s tea party on the eve of the assembly session. He said that the Chief Minister, who is the host of the party, himself would not be present at the party. “This is undermining the democratic and parliamentary traditions,” Thakre said. “The government is not serious about the farmers’ issues also. Their casual attitude is visible in their every action. Hence, we are boycotting the tea party,” he added.

Thakre also said that his party would be aggressive in the house over the issue of drought and compensation to farmers. He said the government should give at least Rs. 25,000 per hectare to the rain-fed farmers and Rs. 50,000 per hectare to those who had been cultivating cash crops. “We want the government to declare the package for farmers on the very first day of the session,” he said. He also criticised the government for dilly-dallying on the issue under the pretext of help from the Centre. “We had declared relief package even before the central team came to the state for assessment,” Thakre said.

While, the Congress has made its stand clear, NCP leader Ajit Pawar addressed a press conference late in the evening where the party appeared to be more interested in cornering the Congress and claiming the posts of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in both the houses. When questioned about the NCP’s demand for the LoP post, MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre said, “They just have 41 members in the assembly. They also have declared support to the BJP government. Their behavior in the house during the time of trust vote too was supporting the ruling party. How can they claim the LoP post in such a condition?”

When asked, whether Congress considers them to be a part of opposition, Thakre said, “Once our party leader gets elected as the Leader of Opposition, we shall speak to all parties who have stood for the principle of secularism and make sure that Maharashtra will have a strong and united opposition.”

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, speaker of the assembly Haribhau Bagde tried to dodge all questions related to the post of Leader of Opposition in the assembly. “I shall look into the rule books and then decide about the claims,” he said. This stand of him indicates that the ruling combine would try to keep the issue lingering and make the opposition virtually non-existent.

Abhijit Mulye

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