Winter session ends, Oppn ‘friendly fire’ too

The Nagpur session concluded on Friday with the ruling Democratic Front, NCP in particular, having the last laugh, aided by a divided, misdirected and what many saw as a "friendly" Opposition.

In a break from the earlier "political fair", as the Nagpur session is often cynically termed, there was no ritualistic announcement of a Vidarbha package. This drew little criticism from the Opposition, strengthening the perception that they had put up a "friendly' confrontation.

Drought dominated the last two days with CM announcing a slew of measures and seeking a "political consensus" on strict implementation.

Ever since the Opposition demand for probe into the "irrigation scandal" by a SIT led by water expert Madhav Chitale, the "friendliness" was unmistakable and it was further strengthened when the government granted it and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan later made it clear in his parting press conference that it wouldn't be under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, implying it lacked real teeth.

While the SIT announcement made things easier for the NCP, Opposition leader Eknath Khadse of the BJP proudly listed it an accomplishment. The Shiv Sena's no-trust motion seen by many as facade to erase the impression of the CM's friendliness towards Uddhav Thackeray, also fell through.

Sena ally BJP had timed its "Legislature gherao" on the day the motion was to lapse. And it did lapse, as the BJP went ahead with its "gherao". The MNS had said the time wasn't ripe for a no-trust move, which made the Opposition fissures more evident.

On the question of Vidarbha getting nothing from the session, defeating the very purpose of the holding the session in Nagpur, both sides had ready alibis. The CM blamed it on the Opposition saying they wasted the entire first week. Khadse cited government "bankruptcy" due to Rs 2.7 lakh crore debt as reason for Vidarbha drawing a blank.

Although he admitted, "We couldn't achieve much for Vidarbha", he had cited "pressing Vidarbha issues" as reason for not being able to take up the matter of "corrupt" ministers in the government as the Opposition had stated in their agenda.

The CM has, however, announced that a separate meeting of Vidarbha legislators would be called to discuss issues concerning the region. "We will hold an Advantage Vidarbha programme in February and would endeavour to bring four major initiatives namely textile industry, agro-industry, co-operatives and automobile companies," the CM said in the press conference.

On extending the session to third week, Khadse alleged the government refused. The CM said, "The duration is decided by the Business Advisory Committee comprising ruling and Opposition members."

The CM said, "Nine Bills were passed." The Bill to curb black magic was yet again carried forward to the next session along with two more for want of more clarity.

He said, "A special session of the Legislature is being mulled at Nagpur on the occasion of its diamond jubilee. Dates will be fixed later." For now, the highlight of the Nagpur session for Vidarbha is the announcement made of two medical colleges at Chandrapur and Gondia.

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