Maharashtra: Rift in MVA out in open, Cong upset over fund distribution, seat sharing

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By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: June 13, 2020 2:38:41 am

Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said there was discontent in the party over not being “included in key decision-making process”. (File)

In yet another instance of uneasiness within the constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, ally Congress has publicly expressed its displeasure over not being included in meetings and key decision-making process.

Sources in the Congress said unequal distribution of budgetary funds between the parties has become the main bone of contention, along with seat-sharing negotiations for the upcoming nominations from the Governor’s quota to the Legislative Council.

Following a meeting of senior ministers held in Mumbai on Thursday, the Congress has apparently conveyed to Shiv Sena and NCP leadership that it isn’t interested in being a part of the negotiations unless a 4-4-4 distribution of the seats was followed.

Nominations for 12 Legislative Council seats filled up through the Governor’s quota are up for grabs this month. Ten have fallen vacant, while two more will be vacated when the term of their incumbents end on June 15.

A senior Congress minister said, “Our demand is not unreasonable. We were only asking for something that was promised to us.” In May, the Congress had withdrawn one of its candidates for the previous elections to nine Council seats to ensure that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray gets nominated unopposed.

The Congress also holds the grudge that development funds allocated for constituencies controlled by its party ministers is far less as compared to those allocated to their counterparts in NCP and Sena. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar heads the finance portfolio. In what has built tension between Congress and NCP, senior Congress ministers – including former CM Ashok Chavan and Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat – are of the opinion that lion’s share of funds have been allocated to constituencies represented by NCP ministers, in particular.

Thorat said there was discontent in the party over not being “included in key decision-making process”. He added that the Congress will now raise its grievances before the CM. While he chose not to disclose the nature of the greivances, saying it was an “internal matter” of the coalition, he said the “Congress should gets its rightful place in the decision-making process”.

He also admitted to there being “certain issues” to do with MLC nominations. “We will raise them with the CM,” he said.

The visible sign of friction comes just a day after Thorat shared the stage with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Ajit Pawar for a press conference on the decision of the business advisory committee to postpone the Monsoon Session of the state Assembly. The remark also echoes a statement by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi who indicated recently that the Congress is “not a major part of the government” in Maharashtra.

Sources said that a Congress ministers’ delegation, led by Thorat and Chavan, is planning to call on Uddhav on Monday.

Incidentally, after Sena and NCP top leadership visited the cyclone-hit Raigad district, Thorat announced a visit by a party delegation on Saturday. This is the first time that the state Congress unit has expressed its displeasure in public. A senior NCP leader said he saw it as “pressure tactics” from Congress.

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