Even though Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his allies, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, have said the government is stable and strong while ruling out the possibility of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Operation Lotus plan in the state, the government faces a couple of challenges. Apart from the revival of economy, which has been hit hard because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, the government will have to strive to restore 12% reservation in education and 13% in government jobs for the politically influential Maratha community, which has been currently stayed by the Supreme Court.
This apart, the government will have to meet the demand from the Dhangar community to provide reservation from the Scheduled Tribes (ST). Incidentally, Scheduled Tribes’ leaders have strongly opposed to touching their quota.
Further, the other backward classes (OBC) are not happy over the state government’s recent decisions to provide funds to the undertakings and departments catering services to the Maratha community. OBC leaders and ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Vikay Wadettiwar are at the forefront demanding a level playing field. They also openly opposed touching the OBC quota for giving reservation to the Maratha community.
As far as the revival of the economy is concerned, the state government’s revenue shortfall for April-December, 2020, has crossed Rs 50,000 crore compared to the corresponding period. Its borrowings have crossed Rs 55,000 crore compared to Rs 22,000 crore last year. The government expects an increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection. Also, an improvement in the collection of excise duty, stamp duty and registration fee will give a much needed relief.
However, the CM and his deputy are angry over the Centre’s dilly dallying over the clearance of GST dues of over Rs 38,000 crore. The duo argue that early release of funds will partially reduce the burden on state exchequer. The government would then be able to spend money on a slew of development and welfare work.
Already there is a tremendous pressure on the government. It has imposed a 67% cut in planned expenditure, thereby, making available only 33% to various departments on ongoing work and not on new projects.
Additionally, the government will need funds to strengthen the health and education infrastructure, modernise the police force and complete long pending irrigation projects.
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