Maharashtra: Heated Exchanges in Assembly Ensue As Former Minister Nawab Malik Aligns With Ruling Coalition

December 08,2023

The opening day of the state legislature's winter session saw some heated exchanges over former minister and MLA Nawab Malik seating himself in the treasury benches. The issue was raised in the upper house by leader of the opposition Ambadas Danve when deputy chief minister who also holds the finance portfolio rose to table a supplementary budget.  

Malik, who was imprisoned in a money laundering case, is out on bail on medical grounds and attending the house proceedings for the first time since the NCP split. His presence in the treasury benches indicated that he is now aligned with NCP’s Ajit Pawar faction that is part of the ruling coalition.

Raising the issue in the council, Danve, asked how could a person  labelled as "terrorist" by the ruling BJP, rub shoulders with the ruling coalition members. This led state excise minister Shambhuraje Desai to take a  strong objection to  Danve's remarks. He urged the chairman not to allow Danve to speak. Jumping into the heated exchange, Shiv Sena (UBT) member Anil Parab insisted that Danve had a right to speak with the chair's permission.

Malik affirms allegiance to NCP

Speaking to the media in the Assembly campus, Malik affirmed his allegiance to the NCP, emphasising unity within the party, and that he was in the house to raise issues related to his constituency. Malik, who was in jail for over a year, was granted bail by the Supreme Court in August on medical grounds, with the interim order issued by Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M. Trivedi.

Responding to the Opposition's criticism in the council, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said it was ironic that leaders who had ignored demands for Malik's resignation when he was imprisoned were now taking a different stand. In a dramatic development, Fadnavis later released a letter addressed to the deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, disapproving of Malik's joining the ruling coalition because of the serious nature of allegations against him. 

Ajit Pawar moves supplementary budget

Earlier, Ajit Pawar, who also holds the finance portfolio, moved a supplementary budget of Rs 55,520.77 crore in both houses. He said that members would have the opportunity to discuss the supplementary budget on Monday and Tuesday. The assurance came in response to a query from senior house member Jayant Patil (PWP). Patil raised concerns about the lack of discussion on the supplementary budget, noting that the fresh allocations were consistently increasing every year, surpassing the annual budget itself.

Of the total, supplementary demands worth Rs 19,244.34 crore were described as mandatory expenditure, while demands worth Rs 32,792.81 crore are required for various on-going programmes and schemes of the state government, a note issued by the finance department said. Besides that, supplementary demands worth Rs 3,483.62 crore are towards the state's contribution to the on-going schemes of the Union government, it said.