Chief Minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray has told a ‘probing’ Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari that extending the Monsoon session of the state legislature beyond two days amid the Covid-19 pandemic wasn’t a good idea and that the Assembly Speaker will be elected at an appropriate time because there is no specific deadline for it.
The CM also urged Koshyari to lobby with the Centre to get the state’s empirical data of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) to restore their political quota in the local body elections.
Thackeray wrote to the governor on Thursday in response to Koshyari’s letter dated June 24, that had asked him to consider the three important demands raised by a Bharatiya Janata Party delegation led by Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis. The CM began the letter referring to the BJP’s demands, and Koshyari’s directive to ‘act on them and update him’.
The exchange of letters is seen as the beginning of yet another round of clashes between the Maha Vikas Aghadi and the Raj Bhavan, which will be observed for further retaliation. The Monsoon session will be held on July 5 and 6 with limited business. The governor can announce the Speaker’s election, but not without the government’s recommendation.
About the session, Thackeray said the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the legislature reserved the sole right to decide its duration. The BAC of both the houses discussed the Covid Task Force’s concerns over the Delta plus variant of the novel Coronavirus and the possibility of the third wave. “I humbly bring to your notice that the second wave is not over yet and the third wave has been predicted not only in Maharashtra but across the country,” he wrote while explaining the measures that need to be taken to safeguard the people, the government staff and legislators.
He said the government wanted the Assembly Speaker’s elections held as early as possible, but the pandemic may not allow all MLAs to be there in the election procedure. “There are rules for conducting the election, but there is no timeframe fixed for it. Most state governments, including Maharashtra, could not hold longer sessions because of Covid-19 situation. Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal is handling the interim charge of the Speaker. There has been no breach of constitutional provision here,” Thackeray responded to Koshyari. He said declaring the election date in advance will not be appropriate.
Thackeray said the State Election Commission (SEC) has been requested to postpone the by-elections of local bodies in the five districts and expected to give a positive response.
The CM also urged the governor to help the state get from the Centre the empirical data of the 2011 census to consolidate the efforts of restoring the OBC’s political quota.