The opposition BJP on Wednesday met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to complain against the state government's decision to hold the monsoon session of the legislature for two days next month, which he said was taken with the sole intention to avoid uncomfortable questions from the Opposition on various issues.
Speaking to reporters, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis also said the BJP also requested the governor to postpone the next month's elections to five Zilla Parishads and bypolls to the seats in 33 Panchayat Samitis that were rendered vacant and converted into general category following the Supreme Court's verdict of quashing OBC reservation in local bodes.
He alleged the state government was purposely delaying the election to the post of the state Assembly Speaker in the violation of norms.
Mr Fadnavis alleged the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is selectively using COVID-19 pandemic to "save its skin".
"By keeping the duration of the session too short, the government is running away from democratic procedures where it will have to face questions from Opposition parties. At the same time, this government has decided to hold bye-elections in several local governing bodies. If the COVID-19 situation is still serious then how can political parties hold its rallies and campaign for candidates. It is absolutely wrong for the state government to hold the monsoon session for such a short period. We requested the governor to look into it," he said.
In the same vein, Mr Fadnavis said the post of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker has been lying vacant since February.
"Not holding the election for this post is against the constitutional norms. The governor had already written a letter to the state government asking it to hold the speaker's election. It is obligatory for the state to hold the election," the former chief minister said.
Mr Fadnavis said many MLAs in the Maha Vikas Aghadi are not happy with the performance of the state government.
"Not holding the Speaker's election amounts to the breakdown of the constitutional mechanism, which is not acceptable to us. We requested the Governor to point out this crisis to President as the state is not fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities," he said, adding, "It seems the government fears that if it holds the election for the Speaker's post it might suffer embarrassment from its own MLAs and is thus delaying the election".
On the issue of farmers, Mr Fadnavis said the erstwhile BJP government in Maharashtra had distributed Rs 750 crore to cultivators and milk producers.
"We had stabilised the milk procurement rate at Rs 25 per litre. Today, milk is procured at Rs 15 or Rs 16 per litre. It is disastrous for farmers," he said.
He also slammed the Uddhav Thackeray government over the March 4 verdict of the Supreme Court quashing quota for OBCs in local bodies in Maharashtra.
"This government's inaction for the last 15 months resulted into the Supreme Court reading down the previous state government's decision to offer reservation for OBCs in local bodies. This means OBCs are left with no political reservation in the state," he said.
Mr Fadnavis said the state government had earlier agreed not to hold elections to local bodies until the reservation is restored to OBCs.
"The government had even made an announcement to this effect. However, the decision was reversed within a day and now elections are going to be held for the vacant seats," he said.
Maharashtra relief and rehabilitation minister Vijay Wadettiwar had recently said that elections to local bodies will not be held. However, the state election commission on Tuesday announced the schedule for elections to five Zilla Parishad and bypolls to seats rendered vacant in Panchayat Samitis following quashing of the OBC quota by the top court on July 19.
"We requested the governor to postpone these elections as it means no political representation for OBCs. If we (political parties) campaign, it will cause the COVID-19 to spread further. This (holding elections) shows double standards of the state government," he alleged.
"Ministers in the state government who claim to protect the interests of OBCs should talk to the government and postpone the elections until the communities get political reservations," he said.
Mr Fadnavis said he had discussed the issue with BJP state president Chandrakant Patil and BJP core committee.
"We have decided to field only OBC candidates on these seats. We will consider these seats as reserved for OBCs. We will accept defeat but we will not field any candidate from other castes on these seats," he said, adding that the BJP will stage ''chakka jam'' protests on June 26 across the state.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)