Mumbai: Ever since the election results were announced in Maharashtra, the state has seen a bitter battle between the erstwhile allies – the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for power. The latest face-off between the two saffron parties is over the 'statutory' post of the chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW).
While the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government wants to oust the sitting chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar, who is also the head of the BJP women's wing, she has decided to fight back.
The intention to oust Rahatkar could be seen last week, when the government informed the Bombay High Court that Rahatkar's tenure as MSCW chief has come to an end and that it is looking for another person to head the commission.
In her defence, Rahatkar, who was first appointed in 2016, has an 'extension' given to her tenure by the then chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis in February 2019. Going by this extension, Rahatkar cannot be ousted from office at least till 2022 i.e. till half the tenure of the present dispensation.
While speaking about the recent developments, Rahatkar said, “The present government has not communicated anything, either orally or in written form, to me, asking me to step down. The people in power today should understand that the position of the MSCW chairperson would not change just because there is a change in the government or the political dispensation at the helm.”
To back her argument, Rahatkar cited the laws governing the functioning of the commission. “The law provides for a specific procedure to oust a sitting chairperson that is only possible if I have done anything contrary to the public interest or against the welfare of women. The government will have to go by the rules and cannot act as per their whims,” Rahatkar argued.
The stance of the government (in HC) has come as a shocker for Rahatkar, who said that the working of the commission has nothing to do with the government or the political parties in power.
“How can they tell the court that I am not remitting the office. Everyone (in the government) is aware of my extension, especially because the appointment letter comes from the Women and Child Department. There can be no change in this post just because there is a change in the government,” Rahatkar affirmed.
Rahatkar's contentions were opposed by Priyanka Chaturvedi, the Sena leader, who accused her of not following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's advice on 'power.'
“While the PM says that politicians should not be greedy for power, his own party members are not ready to step down but want to hold on to power,” Chaturvedi said.
“Rahatkar must understand that every constitutional post comes with an expiry date and if there is an extension, then she should prove it. Her appointment was a politically motivated one, and now, with a new government at power, she must step down,” Chaturvedi added.