Mumbai: Spurred by its win in the recent civic elections, an aggressive opposition plans to take on the ruling Democratic Front (DF) on a wide range of issues in the crucial budget session of the Maharashtra legislature that begins on Thursday.
This time, the political weather is expected to be all the more stormy for Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's Congress-National Congress Party (NCP) government with the biennial elections for six seats to the Rajya Sabha also scheduled to be held March 30th, when the session will be on.
Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar will table the state budget for 2012-13 here on March 26th. He will need all his balancing and financial skills in view of the whopping Rs.207,000 crore debts confronting the state.
This would entail scouting for new avenues to generate and mobilise scarce resources, along with providing employment opportunities, especially for youth, to reduce the gap and make the state economy healthier.
For the past few years, the DF government has held out the promise of making the state free from power cuts by 2012 to boost agricultural and industrial production.
However, while some neighbouring states claim to have achieved this feat, Maharashtra's status is expected to be known now, as Ajit Pawar also holds the key energy portfolio.
Besides grappling with these issues, the government will have to face a belligerent opposition.
The saffron triumvirate of Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party-Republican Party of India (SS-BJP-RPI) is fresh from its win in the Mumbai and Thane civic elections, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has been energised with the win in Uttar Pradesh and Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena is raring to go... the going will be difficult for the suave and seasoned Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshwardhan Patil.
Among the prickly issues is the delay in initiating action against senior Congress leader and former city party chief Kripashankar Singh.
"Kripashankar Singh and his family are allegedly embroiled in multi-crore rupee corruption charges and the authorities swung into action only after a sharp rap from the Bombay High Court," said BJP Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Vinod Tawade.
Another senior Congress leader Kanhaiyalal Gidwani was nabbed by the Central Bureau of Investigation for alleged corrupt activities with intentions to influence the controversial Adarsh Society scam.
Though Gidwani was suspended by the party, the matter is considered sensitive as the names of three former chief ministers - Ashok Chavan (in wilderness now), Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde (both central ministers now) - have been linked to the scam, and the opposition has been questioning the delay in probing the matter by a two-member commission appointed by the state government.
However, the government is hoping to shield itself from the attacks somewhat with the session-eve arrest of senior Shiv Sena leader and ex-minister Suresh Jain in a huge housing scam in Jalgaon.
Crying foul over the government move and terming it as "a political stunt," the two main opposition parties - SS and BJP - are also quarrelling and hurling allegations at each other over the issue.
Another major issue is the resumption of protests by the Shiv Sena and other groups opposed to the proposed 9,900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project coming up in the coastal district of Ratnagiri.
In view of the protests in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu, the next strategy of the government remains to be seen though both Chavan and Pawar have made it clear that the project is on.
Plus there are the usual issues such as corruption, runaway inflation and law and order, which will of course dominate the proceedings and the shadow of the union budget and railway budget will also fall on the state budget on March 26.