Maharashtra session: Opposition to corner government on refinery, farm loan waiver

Nagpur, the second capital of Maharashtra, is set to host the state Legislature’s monsoon session from July 4 with the opposition planning to target the government on the Nanar refinery and farm loan waiver issues.

The opposition is planning to put the ruling BJP and the Shiv Sena on the mat over their conflicting stands on the Nanar refinery project, the statewide ban on the use of plastic and the bullet train project.

While the Shiv Sena is opposing the bullet train and the Nanar refinery projects, the BJP is not whole-heartedly supporting the plastic ban, a brainchild of Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray.

BJP legislator Raj Purohit had earlier written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis seeking a stay on the plastic ban till December 2019 till an alternative to the prohibited material is put in place.

The opposition Congress and NCP have been critical of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, and are planning to corner the government over it during the session, which will conclude on July 20.

They are also opposing the integrated refinery and petrochemicals project, set to come up at Nanar in the coastal Ratnagiri district, and plan to target the government on the farmers’ loan waiver issue too.

NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said even after a year, there was no smooth implementation of the loan waiver scheme.

“Farmers are facing hardships in availing crop loans. The crime incidents are on the rise. The Nanar refinery and the bullet train projects will further hurt farmers since their land will be taken away. The BJP and the Sena are just playing politics over these issues,” Malik charged.

Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant claimed that farmers were yet to get compensation for their crops infected by ‘pink bollworm’ (a pest) last year.

Meanwhile, a senior BJP leader said the government is expecting a smooth session and is ready for discussion on any issue raised by the opposition.

The session is likely to take up various bills, including an amendment to provide higher compensation to farmers and expedite the process of land acquisition for highways across the state, parliamentary affairs minister Girish Bapat said.

The state government has mandated that compensation for land acquisition should be at least four times the registered or the ready reckoner price.

While the session would be in progress, the biennial elections to 11 Legislative Council seats from the MLAs’ quota will also be held on July 16.

The electoral college for the 11 seats are the 289 members of the Legislative Assembly.

Out of the 11 retiring members whose term ends on July 27, the Congress has three, the NCP-four, the BJP-two and the Shiv Sena and the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP)-one each.

The BJP is currently the single largest party in the Legislative Assembly with 122 members followed by the Shiv Sena with 63.

Given their numerical strength, the BJP can have five members and the Sena two out of the 11 Council seats which will go to polls.

After this election, the BJP is set to be the single largest party in the Upper House also.

Sources in the BJP said the party will stake claim for posts of the Legislative Council’s chairman and deputy chairman, currently held by the NCP and the Congress, respectively.

However, an NCP leader said there was no question of Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar (chairman) and Manikrao Thakre (deputy chairman) quitting the posts.

“Let the BJP bring a no-confidence motion against them and get it passed on the floor of the House,” he said.

In the 78-member Legislative Council, the NCP currently has 20 members, Congress-18, BJP-20, Sena-11, JD-U, PWP and People’s Republican Party one each while there are six Independents.

The monsoon session will be held in Nagpur, which has been hosting the winter session, after a gap of 47 years.

This will be the fourth time that the monsoon session of the state Legislature will take place in the ‘orange city’.

According to an official of the Vidhan Bhavan, the monsoon sessions of the state Legislature were earlier held in Nagpur in 1961, 1966 and 1971.

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