The 5-party Shiv Sena-BJP-led 'Mahayuti', invigorated by its landslide victory (42 of 48 seats) in the Lok Sabha elections, is sharpening its knives to attack the ruling Congress-NCP in the budget session of the state legislature beginning Monday.
The government will also be under pressure to deliver a 'dream budget' before the assembly polls due later this year. NCP spokesperson and MLA Nawab Malik, in fact, hinted that the budget, to be presented by finance minister Ajit Pawar, could be one that pleases all. He also said the treasury benches would effectively counter the opposition.
The opposition is also expected to turn the heat on the government over the demand for reservations for the dominant Maratha community. Marathas (kshatriya warrior caste) and Kunbis (agriculturists) form around 31.5% of Maharashtra's population. The Kunbis are already covered under the OBC quotas. The terms Maratha and Maratha-Kunbis are used interchangeably.
With incidents like policemen brutally beating up villagers at Kanagara in Osmanabad district for speaking out against illicit liquor, state ministers, including deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, being indicted by the co-operatives department for alleged irregularities in Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB), and rising cases of atrocities against Dalits, the opposition will not have to look far to haul the government over the coals.
The Sena-BJP will also demand that the report of the Madhav Chitale Committee, which inquired into the irrigation scam, be tabled, and action be taken in the Adarsh Society scam.
The state is also under pressure from the powerful traders lobby to evolve an alternative to the accounts-based local body tax (LBT), which replaced the much reviled Octroi in most municipal corporations except Mumbai.
"There are many issues for us to focus on," said leader of opposition Eknath Khadse, who added that they would up the ante against the government on issues like inflation, corruption, Kanagara case and instances of policemen being killed in Naxal attacks in the Left-extremist dominated belt of Vidarbha.
Girish Bapat, a senior BJP legislator from Kasba Peth in Pune, said they would take the government to task on unfulfilled assurances given by it on relief to farmers, deteriorating law and order, non-payment of compensation to farmers in areas affected by hailstorms and unseasonal rains, and problems students are facing during admission to schools and colleges.
He added that the opposition would also seek tabling of the Chitale report, and action against those involved in the Adarsh scam. Bapat, who heads the public accounts committee (PAC) of the legislature, said they would also seek action taken reports (ATR) on the various PAC reports, which had unearthed irregularities.
"There is only one issue before us, that is, seeing the ouster of this government. We will do everything necessary towards that end," said Subhash Desai, Shiv Sena group leader in the assembly and Goregaon MLA. He also pointed to how home minister RR Patil had admitted to lapses by the police in the Kanagara case, and questioned whether Patil had any moral authority to continue in his post. "He must resign," said Desai, who added that the government should have stepped down after suffering such a massive setback in the Lok Sabha elections.