Maharashtra session from Monday: Opposition to target 'tainted' ministers

Mumbai: The Monsoon session of Maharashtra Legislature beginning on Monday, is likely to see opposition Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) training guns on "tainted" ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet.

The session comes in the backdrop of resignation by then Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse after a string of allegations against him, including one regarding 'illegal' purchase of MIDC land in Pune.

The BJP-led government will miss Khadse's presence in Legislative Council, as being Leader of the House in Council then, Khadse managed to keep the opposition in check in the Upper House, with his experience, a Congress leader said.

The presence of aggressive Congress MLC and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane in the Council, will add to the government's woes in the Upper House. It will also have to deal with Leader of Opposition in the Council, Dhananjay Munde, who was re-elected to the post recently.

The government will also have to face the opposition onslaught on issues of agrarian crisis, including relief measures during the recent drought in many parts of the state.

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Senior Congress and NCP leaders held a joint meeting recently, where leaders from both parties chalked out a strategy to raise various issues, including that of the "tainted" ministers, during the three-week long session.

"Whenever the issue of corruption came up, BJP always took the high moral ground. So I was surprised when (Chief Minister) Fadnavis inducted corrupt faces in his Cabinet. Most of the inducted ministers are facing grave corruption charges. BJP claims it is a party with a difference. But the induction of tainted ministers has exposed them," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

It will be difficult for the government to explain why was a leader of Khadse's stature asked to resign merely on the basis of allegations, he said.

Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil alleged that Fadnavis was protecting corrupt ministers.

"How will people get justice from these tainted ministers?" he asked.

"We have collected corruption-related documents of these recently inducted ministers," a Congress leader said.

Among the ministers facing charges is Jaikumar Rawal, who is Minister for Employment Guarantee Schemes, Tourism and Self-Employment.

He is facing allegations of submitting fake documents, showing that he had planted pomegranate trees that got damaged in a hailstorm. He received a compensation of over Rs one crore from the Maharashtra government for this damage.

Another minister on the Opposition radar is Shiv Sena's Gulabrao Patil, Minister of State for Co-operatives.

Patil was recently jailed for a day for allegedly forging documents and copying dead people's signatures in one of the school trust general body meetings. He also faces 13 various cases of cheating and threatening government officials.

BJP's Ravindra Chavan, who is Minister of State for Ports, Medical Education, Information and Technology, Food and Civil supplies, has an atrocity case filed against him. He was also in the limelight for allegedly equating Dalits with pigs.

BJP's Subhash Deshmukh, Minister for Cooperation, Marketing and Textiles, faces charges that as director of a sugar factory, took a loan on farmers' names without their consent.

Farmers were surprised when they received defaulter notices from banks. A cheating case has been filed against him.

Shiv Sena's Arjun Khotkar, Minister of State for Textiles, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries, faces allegations of threatening government employees and obstructing their work.

BJP's Sambhaji Patil-Nilangekar, Minister for Labour, Earthquake Rehabilitation, Skill Development and Ex-servicemen Welfare, has been in the news for his association with a company declared as a wilful defaulter by a bank.

Opposition has alleged that he is a guarantor to a loan, declared as a fraud account, with an outstanding balance of Rs 49.29 crore owed to two state-owned banks.

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Updated Date: Jul 17, 2016 11:39:02 IST

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