Opposition party leaders in Maharashtra on Wednesday staged a protest over the alleged leak of the state Budget, ahead of its presentation in the Assembly, and asked for an inquiry into the matter, PTI reported. The legislators alleged that details of the Budget were leaked on state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar’s Twitter handle before it was presented on Tuesday.
“The government leaked the budget on Twitter even before it was presented before the legislature by Mungantiwar on Tuesday,” said Nationalist Congress Party leader Dhananjay Munde. “We are protesting against the government’s such irresponsible approach. We want a probe into the matter by the cyber cell.” Protesting leaders, including Nationalist Congress Party’s Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil, held a demonstration on the state legislature premises during the ongoing Assembly session.
On Tuesday, some of the leaders had staged a walkout boycotting the presentation of the budget. “The Finance Minister is now presenting the Budget, so he is certainly not tweeting its highlights,” Ajit Pawar had said in the Assembly. “If his team is doing it simultaneously, it suggests that they had all the provisions with them.”
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, however, refuted the allegations saying that the provisions were posted on the social media platform 15 minutes after Mungantiwar started his budget speech.
“Technology is so advanced...the Opposition need to understand it,” said Fadnavis, according to IANS. “Several news media run the Budget highlights as they are presented in the House. Government agencies like the PMO and PIB also do it during the Union Budget. Compared to that, the time lag was more here.”
After the matter was brought up by Munde, Chairman Ramraje Naik-Nimbakar adjourned the House for 10 minutes and had called an all-party meeting, which the Bharatiya Janata Party boycotted. The saffron party accused the chairman of a “partisan approach” and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil threatened to bring a no-confidence motion against him.
Opposition legislation Lawmakers from the Opposition on Wednesday also criticised the BJP-led state government over the drought situation and called for complete loan waivers for farmers. While presenting the budget on Tuesday, Mungatiwar said that the state government has credited Rs 4,461 crore in the bank accounts of nearly 67 lakh farmers as drought relief. He also enumerated the steps undertaken by the government for drought mitigation.
Several parts of Maharashtra are reeling under severe drought. The government announced the relief measure for 66,88,422 farmers in 17,985 villages spread across 26 districts.
The Opposition leaders also condemned the government for allegedly sidelining senior BJP MLA Eknath Khadse, according to PTI. Khadse, who was earlier considered to be the second in command in the Fadnavis’ administration, resigned from the state Cabinet in June 2016 over allegations of corruption in a land deal. He was later given a clean chit by the Anti-Corruption Bureau.