Maharashtra opposition fails to project united front

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Mumbai, July 23 (IANS) The Maharashtra opposition on Sunday failed to project a united front a day before the start of the assembly’s monsoon session, with the Nationalist Congress Party skipping the customary combined opposition meeting convened by the Congress.

Instead of the usual joint media briefing on the opposition strategy to corner the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine, both the Congress and the NCP addressed separate press conferences.

The development came barely a week after cross-voting in the July 17 Presidential election, with both parties claiming that their flock voted in favour of United Progressive Alliance candidate Meira Kumar who lost to National Democratic Alliance’s Ram Nath Kovind.

Simultaneously, all opposition parties boycotted the traditional session-eve tea party hosted by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday afternoon.

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Talking to the media, Leader of Opposition in the assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress) and Leader of Opposition in the legislative council Dhananjay Munde (NCP) raised similar issues that they plan to raise during the monsoon session.

These include pending implementation of the farm loan waiver scheme announced last month, controversies surrounding land acquisition for the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, and malnutrition deaths.

Fadnavis didn’t miss the opportunity to take potshots at the opposition on their session-eve differences.

“They (Opposition parties) are now opposing each other. We were also in the opposition, but despite our differences, we jointly went for media briefings,” he said.

However, Vikhe-Patil appeared to downplay the issue when questioned about NCP’s absence.

“We are united. All is well within the united opposition parties. The NCP wanted to speak on certain other issues, so they are addressing a separate media conference,” Vikhe-Patil claimed.

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State NCP President Sunil Tatkare blamed the Congress for the session-eve discomfiture and cited ‘lack of communication’ from the other side.

“There was no communication from the Congress on how to go about during the monsoon session,” he said.

Both parties attacked the government on the farm loan waiver, claiming that the ruling coalition had fooled the farmers in the name of writing off their debts.

Fadnavis said he found the entire fracas ‘strange’.

“I have got two letters — one from the Congress and other parties, and another from the NCP. There are no new points in them and both the letters are in a common text format,” he said mockingly.

Now, all eyes will be on the Congress and the NCP during the monsoon session.

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The Maharashtra government plans to take up 21 bills, including 14 new and seven pending ones, during the session.



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