The maiden session of the fourth Vidhan Sabha of Uttarakhand starting from Friday with the largest strength of the treasury bench since the first Assembly formed in 2002 would prove different on two counts. First, the ministers are devoid of portfolios and second, there is no leader of the opposition with few hours left for the session to commence.
Save for Prakash Pant who has been made the Parliamentary affairs minister on Thursday, nine other ministers, including two ministers of state, are still without portfolios. Things are interesting as the first hour of the session is designated as Question Hour during which the MLAs, particularly those from the Opposition, are inclined to test the ministers and the bureaucrats by throwing tricky questions with the leader of the opposition leading their brigade from the front.
With Congress relegated to a paltry 11 seats in the 70-member House, the party brass, seemingly nursing its wounds, is yet to pick the right person for the crucial post. Names of three- Indira Hridayesh, Preetam Singh and Govind Singh Kunjwal- are doing the rounds though.
Sources say that the party high command is taking time while considering the fact that with the treasury bench having an overpowering presence in the House, the person to be picked as the leader of the opposition must be a formidable one to assert the strength of the miniscule opposition.
Things look piquant too as the Vidhan Sabha would fix the days for the chief minister and other ministers to answer the queries related to the departments they hold. The observers are wondering over how the days are to be fixed for the departments with no minister being in charge.
As per the convention, the chief minister answers questions related to the departments he holds on the first day of the week i.e. Monday. Later, the turns for other departments come.
An official said requesting anonymity that as per the notification, all the departments rest with the chief minister until portfolios are allotted. “It would doubtless prove an uphill task for the CM to take on all the pointed questions related to such a huge number of departments to be raised by the seasoned members of the opposition camp unless the portfolios are allotted beforehand. This would not just result in ignominy for the CM as the leader of the House but also in embarrassment for the bureaucrats who come prepared to take on the volleys to be discharged by the opposition members to help the ministers concerned out of the fix they generally find themselves in,” added the official.