With two members of the state cabinet namely Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar and Pandurang Madkaikar admitted in hospital, with uncertainty over their presence in the state legislative assembly during its monsoon session commencing next week, the only option left before the government is temporarily allocating the portfolios held by these two ministers to other minister/ ministers, during the period of the monsoon session.
The monsoon session of the House is scheduled to be conducted between July 19 and August 3.
In the event of absence of any minister in the state legislative assembly, the chief minister is authorised to speak/ reply in the House on his/ her behalf. However, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is presently recuperating from an illness, would find it physically as well as mentally demanding to take on the questions pertaining to the portfolios of Dhavalikar and Madkaikar during the Question Hour, and further reply to the demands on these portfolios.
Dhavalikar presently holds major portfolios namely public works and transport, besides river navigation and museums, while Madkaikar is in charge of power, social welfare and non-conventional energy. Parrikar himself is holding a large number of portfolios such as home, finance, mines and geology, personnel, general administration, vigilance and quite a few others, which have not been allocated.
The monsoon session of the state legislative assembly, which is generally held between three and five weeks, has already been reduced to 12 days.
Former Union minister and constitutional authority, Ramakant Khalap,
when asked if the Chief Minister can temporarily authorise his minister/ ministers to handle the portfolios of Dhavalikar and Madkaikar in the state legislative assembly, said that even such temporary authorisation needs to be done as per the Constitution. “The fresh allocation of the portfolios can take place only by issuing a notification, which means the two ministers would be relieved of their portfolios,” he noted.
Noted advocate and former legislator Uday Bhembre said that the Chief Minister can very well assign the portfolios of Dhavalikar and Madkaikar to his other minister/ ministers, during the period of assembly so that he/ they can speak on these portfolios.
“When the monsoon session of the House ends, the Chief Minister can re-assign the respective portfolios to Dhavalikar and Madkaikar,” Bhembre observed, stating that such a stop-gap arrangement has been recently made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. “The Prime Minister had announced that Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal would be holding additional charge as the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs until Arun Jaitley, who was earlier holding these portfolios recovers from his kidney transplant,” he added.
With exactly a week left for the monsoon session of the state legislative assembly to begin, it now remains to be seen whether Parrikar would take such a step. And even if he does it, whether the minister/ ministers allocated the portfolios of Dhavalikar and Madkaikar, would be able to grasp them and come out with satisfactory information as well as replies pertaining to these portfolios, in the House.
Two senior state leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, when asked to react on this queer situation, initially said that the Chief Minister would be able to handle the portfolios of the two ministers. However, when brought to the notice that the resulting stress is not in the interest of the health of the Chief Minister, they said that the related decision should be taken by the Chief Minister himself. “It is the prerogative of the Chief Minister to allocate or withdraw the portfolios,” they maintained.