Neither the ruling party, nor the opposition is serious
Recap the events that took place on January 2 and try to analyse them. The Congress-NCP government took a U-turn on the Adarsh inquiry commission and reversed its 12-day-old decision to reject the report, avoiding any tangible explanation as to why it chose to change its stand. The principal Opposition party, BJP, forgot to speak on its earlier demand of a special session of the state legislature to table afresh, the action taken report (ATR). The Shiv Sena completely forgot to react, and MNS was silent as usual.
The Shiv Sena woke up only two days after the state cabinet approved a fresh ATR, and a party delegation met the governor with a charter of demands, including a demand to sack the government. For such a serious demand, the alliance partner, BJP, was not asked to join. Since the last few days, the state has been witness to a break-up of Opposition parties. It first started during the winter session, when MNS alienated itself from the BJP over deciding joint strategies on the floor of the legislature.
On the crucial issue of Adarsh, where six top politicians and a bunch of bureaucrats have received the rap for meddling with the society issue in a wrong way, the opposition parties came out with a fragmented picture. They devised separate strategies, weakening their strength and fuelling suspicions over their motives. The entire opposition has conveniently forgotten that their united strength can unnerve the government.
This is the political picture of Maharashtra, a state that is going to face two general elections this year. The state will be under an election code of conduct for at least six months – first, for the Lok Sabha elections likely to happen in April-May, and later, for the state assembly polls slated for October.
Maharashtra is mired in a pathetic political state – neither the government nor the opposition seems serious. The cabinet meeting that reversed the Adarsh commission report on January 2 could well be described as a big stage show. The meeting was supposed to confirm the minutes of the December 20 meet that rejected the report. Instead, it took up a subject to accept it.
First, arguments can be made over the December 20 meeting itself. The decision to reject the commission report was taken despite the fact that neither a single copy of the report, nor a cabinet note was placed before the ministers to peruse. In short, it was a pure political stand adopted in a political meeting. But, on January 2 a proper nine-page note was placed before the cabinet, with observations by Justice (retd) J A Patil commission and the state government’s response to all the 13 points, along with action to be taken.
A democratically elected government succumbed to a diktat of a political leader who does not hold any constitutional position. The state government that represents a population of 11.23 crore bowed before the AICC vice-president to show it was doing something. But, people want to know – how does ‘political patronage’, which is enough to take action against politicians, not mean an indictment? On the other hand, officials will face action under civil services rules. Do no rules apply to politicians?
It’s sad to note that the government has lost an opportunity to learn something from the issue. And the behaviour of opposition parties is equally appalling.
There was a complete lack of understanding between them. The BJP and the Shiv Sena never exhibited that they were fighting jointly against the government. Except its demand for the CM’s resignation, the silence of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is equally surprising.
The January 2 cabinet meeting was a hysterical one – Home Minister R R Patil protested that the plight of ministers had become like that of pets. His colleague Jayant Patil stunned the meeting with the allegation that a few ministers kept their cell phones on during the meetings. R R Patil asked why the state couldn’t copy the Aam Aadmi Party by offering relief in power bills. Another minister quipped that the Home Minister should be given a Nano, so he too could align himself with the simple image of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. We can project him as our Kejriwal, he said, evoking laughter.
The laughter show did not end here. A suggestion came from a minister, asking that with elections nearing, the CM and Deputy CM should offer half an hour every week to listen to their cabinet colleagues.
Another minister proposed that cabinet meetings be held twice a week to dispose of pending matters. And it was accepted. Would it be wrong to ask what they were doing for the last four years?
— The writer is Political Editor, MiD DAY