Mumbai: With the Covid-19 cases rising at an alarming rate in the state, the Maharashtra government is facing a tough challenge to hold a two-day monsoon of the State Legislature from Monday.
The state government has taken elaborate measures including mandatory coronavirus tests to ensure the smooth passage of the shortest-ever monsoon session.
Just a couple of days before the beginning of the session, Nana Patole, the chairman of the Vidhan Sabha, had tested positive for coronavirus. The session proceedings will now be chaired by deputy chairman Narhari Zhirwal.
Congress’ Sunil Kedar, the minister for animal husbandry, dairy development and youth welfare & sports, was also tested positive a few days ago taking the total number of ministers affected by the coronavirus to seven. In addition to this, nearly 35 MLAs in the state have been tested positive.
On this backdrop, the state government has decided that only those who will test negative for the virus will attend the session. The antigen test has been made compulsory for all ministers, MLAs, their personal assistants, government officials and employees, journalists etc.
To ensure physical distancing, the seating arrangement of some of the MLAs have been made in the viewers’ and officials’ galleries of the house. The political parties have also been asked preferably not to invite the MLAs, who are having comorbidities (pre-existing health conditions), to the session, said the Vidhan Bhavan officials.
During the session, the personal assistants of the MLAs and common people have been refrained from the entry into the house, they said.
Due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, the monsoon session was earlier postponed twice – it was originally scheduled from June 22 and was later shifted to the last week of August.
Though it may be a short session, it is likely to be a stormy affair with the opposition BJP likely to raise the issues of growing coronavirus cases, the Sushant Singh Rajput death case and the inflated electricity bills in the state. Maharashtra is the worst coronavirus affected state in the country with nearly 8.5 lakh cases so far.