Overburdened CM struggles with standstill government

A DELAY in Cabinet expansion has overburdened Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. From sanctioning supplementary demands to approving replies to be presented in the legislative session, being the head of the government, Shinde remains the only constitutional authority to clear it all as Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is without a portfolio yet.

Lack of ministerial council has halted the movement on possible interstate as well as international agreements, meetings related to projects in various departments as the minister is the head of respective departments and their approval is required to proceed with the project. In addition, each department sends a proposal to the finance department for a particular scheme with approval from the minister. With no Cabinet expansion after 33 days of swearing in of Shinde and Fadnavis, no new project proposals have been sent to the finance department.

“The Chief Minister is a constitutional position and the head of the government. He can clear supplementary demands as well as any proposal related to any department including legislative replies. But lack of ministers means that he is overburdened with work and it is humanly impossible for him to handle all departments,” said an official on the condition of anonymity, adding that priority will be to sanction supplementary demands which, if not granted, may paralyse the functioning of the government. Supplementary demands mean an additional financial provision for a department than made in the main budget.

The newly formed government is also yet to announce dates of the monsoon session. Sources claim that it is likely to be held days after Cabinet expansion.

Another officer said that every file cannot be sent to the CMO for approval as it will naturally be delayed.

Traditionally, tenders for the road works in Public Works Department (PWD) as well as developmental works in villages under the Rural Development Department (RDD) are issued in monsoon as work commences in winter season. This has been delayed.

Transfer of officials is one of the pressing issues among the bureaucrats in the state. Apart from transfers of few IAS officers and those required in the offices of CM and DyCM, senior level transfers are also on hold awaiting ministers taking charge of the department.

A department without a minister also slows down the routine work as no janata darbars – a platform to voice grievances about a particular department – are held. The government has still not appointed guardian ministers to districts, bringing all sanctioned developmental schemes in that particular region to a halt. The Shinde-Fadnavis government has stopped release of funds in District Planning Development Council meetings for projects cleared in the present fiscal.

The Opposition has alleged that relief work in districts affected by rains and subsequent floods was hit for want of guardian ministers. “CM and DyCM sit in Mumbai. A guardian minister coordinates with district authorities when it comes to relief work. The Cabinet expansion must be held at the earliest,” said Ajit Pawar, Leader of Opposition in the state legislative assembly.

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